Scientists in Qatar have taken research into organ development one more step into the future by expanding the potential for creating personalized blood and heart tissue in the lab.
The scientists, under the lead of Arash Rafii Tabrizi at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, have postulated that endothelial cells, which line the walls of blood vessels, are a vehicle for organ development. “Different organs have different endothelial cells that express different and specific factors called angiocrine factors that lead to the development and function of the organ,” explains Tabrizi.
In order to test this, the scientists forced the expression of said transcription vectors in the lab. Twenty days later, the cells multiplied and differentiated into the building blocks of blood cells: hematopietic stem cells. These are the basis for cells such as red and white blood cells and platelets.
“If you have leukemia, for example, we would retrieve your endothelial cells and we could transform that into blood. It would be an unlimited personal source of blood for each individual,” says Tabrizi.
In addition to blood, the researchers paired endothelial cells with heart muscle cells to create more muscle cells, that beat together rhythmically, in a petri dish.
The scientists maintain, however, that it’s too early to make any sweeping assumptions about the reliability of results, not until the tests move into the animal and human trial phases.
Read more about what the scientists have termed a breakthrough discovery here.