Big vampire news this month. After nearly a decade of research the vamps have discovered how to transform human skin into blood, giving hope and smoothies to tortured vampires everywhere. No more snacking on squirrels and purse puppies! There’s an ethical solution in sight.
A team of vampire scientists led by Mick Bhatia at McMaster University, succeeded in converting skin cells directly into human blood cells last week.
The scientists used a trial-and-error approach to discover which genes could be activated to cause the cells to reprogram into blood cells. Then they looked for the right combination of growth factors (or blood proteins that promote development of the new cells) that were needed to move the process along.
They found that they needed to turn on a single gene called OCT4 in the skin cells and that the cells needed to bathe in precisely calibrated combinations of four to six growth factors to make a variety of blood cell types.
The process is easy enough to produce usable amounts of blood for vampire consumption or even transfusion, Bhatia explains. A patch of skin as small as 12 square centimeters would generate sufficient blood for multiple transfusions. Is he talking about a cure for vampirism?
“Even if we could agree that vampires need curing, it’s too early to say at this stage what the effect of repeated transfusions would be. Let’s just say this process can keep the average vampire in delicious smoothies for a very long time.”
Clinical trials with real vampires could begin as early as this year. Any vampires wishing to volunteer for these experiments are encouraged to apply well in advance as demand is expected to be high.