British varsity makes stem cells from blood

London, Nov 30 (IANS) Personalised stem cells can now be made using a patient's own blood, and doctors hope the cells will eventually be used to treat a range of diseases, says a new research by the University of Cambridge.

Experts say this could be one of the easiest and safest sources of stem cells, BBC reported Friday.

The cells were used to build blood vessels, but experts cautioned that the safety of using such stem cells was still unclear.

Stem cells are one of the great hopes of medical research. They can transform into any other type of cell the body is built from - so they should be able to repair everything from the brain to the heart, and eyes to bone, BBC said.

One source of stem cells is embryos, but this is ethically controversial and they would be rejected by the immune system in the same way as an organ transplant.

The team at Cambridge looked in blood samples for a type of repair cell that whizzes through the bloodstream repairing any damage to the walls of blood vessels. These were then converted into stem cells, the report said.

Researcher Amer Rana said this method was better than taking samples from skin.

"We are excited to have developed a practical and efficient method to create stem cells from a cell type found in blood," he said.

"Tissue biopsies are undesirable - particularly for children and the elderly - whereas taking blood samples is routine for all patients."

Chris Mason, an expert on regenerative medicine at University College London, said there was some "beautiful work" coming out of the lab in Cambridge.

"It's a hell of a lot easier to get a blood sample than a high quality skin sample, so that's a big benefit," he told BBC.

"However, induced pluripotent stem cells (those converted from adult cells) are still very new, we need far more experience to totally reprogram a cell in a way we know to be safe."

The British Heart Foundation also said these cells had "great potential".

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