A research group led by Dr. Igor Slukvin, MD PHD, from University of Wisconsin-Madison has identified two transcription factors responsible for the differentiation of stem cells into numerous types of white and red blood cells. The team made use of messenger RNA to overexpress the two transcription factors, which allowed them to generate 30 million blood cells for every million stem cells, without the use of a virus or altering the genetic structure of the blood.
Dr. Eric Darling, from Brown University, and his team of researchers are working towards developing a probe that would light up when stem cells are transforming into the right kind of cell. When stem cells begin differentiating, they send out messenger RNA signals making the probes possible. The probe can pick up these RNA signals and the researchers can then quantify the living cells in real time and monitor the stem cells at different stages of differentiation. Monitoring the differentiation process will enable research to determine which type of stem cells and processes were best at differentiating into different tissue types.