By Clifton Leaf and Sy Mukherjee
May 18, 2017

Good morning, readers! This is Sy with your daily health care fix.

Researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts and the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City have achieved a major breakthrough more than 20 years in the making: Creating stem cells that can multiply and produce the essential elements of blood.

It’s an achievement that skeptics had long dismissed as unfeasible. And the two teams were able to create the cells in mice and humans alike, albeit through different methods. The group over at Boston Children’s created certain human cells which aren’t exactly like the ones we see in nature, but do behave like blood stem cells. The Weill Cornell team created true blood stem cells from mature cells—but in mice.

What sets the Boston Children’s team method apart from earlier stem cell experiments is that it was able to take human skin and other cells, turn them into so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (the kind that can produce all sorts of different cells), and then create certain cells that are extremely similar to natural blood stem cells that can create everything from red blood cells to immune cells through some genetic engineering magic.

There’s still plenty of work to be done here. But after decades of high hopes and ensuing disappointments, this counts as a legitimate milestone.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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