With the ever-growing demand for blood, problems ranging from the lack of blood to the risk of infection remain tough around the world. Even with the precedented experiments on peripheral cultivation of erythrocytes, its low productivity prevented the technology from clinical treatment.
Team led by Prof. CHENG Linzhao from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) has realized the extensive expansion of erythroblasts (unmatured red blood cells with nuclei) from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and induced these erythroblasts to differentiate into mature erythrocytes with high efficiency. The result was published on Molecular Therapy.
The researchers investigated the peripheral erythroid progenitor cells, which failed to keep dividing but terminally differentiated and died. During the process, they observed the expression of BMI1 dying down rapidly, and thus they deduced the importance of the gene in the amplification of these peripheral blood cells. Through further investigation, they confirmed their deduction.
With the previous conclusion, researchers tried to overexpress BMI1, enabling the erythroid progenitor cells to expand 1012 times within two months and in the meantime preserving its potential to differentiate into the erythrocyte, the same as unexpanded primary progenitor cells.
More inspiringly, the man-made peripheral erythrocytes circulate normally in rats as same as a body-generated cell.
Further research confirmed that the cultured erythroid progenitor cells could be genetically engineered for precision medicine. This research may provide the world a solution to the shortage of red blood corpuscles.
Process of functional erythrocytes’ expansion. (Image plotted by Molecular Therapy)
(Written by MIAO Xinyi, edited by JIANG Pengcen, USTC News Center)