Producing blood from stem cell for blood transfusion

UTAR Centre for Biomedical and Nutrition Research (CBNR) parked under Faculty of Science (FSc) organised a webinar titled "Blood Production from Stem Cell for Tomorrow's Blood Transfusion: From Hype to Hope" on 5 April 2021 via Zoom.

Moderated by FSc Deputy Dean for Academic Development and Undergraduate Programmes Assoc Prof Dr Gideon Khoo, the event aimed to highlight the severity of thrombocytopenia, which is a condition characterised by abnormally low levels of platelets. The organiser also hoped to educate students and the public with knowledge on how hematopoietic stem cells in platelet production could be used as an alternative intervention towards sustaining human health and well-being.

Invited to deliver the talk was Mahidol University (Bangkok, Thailand) Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital Siriraj Center of Excellence for Stem Cells Research (SiSCR) Senior Researcher Dr Chanchao Lorthongpanich. Dr Chanchao and her research team have developed an in vitro production system which is designed to increase the yield of red blood cells (RBC) and platelets from iPSCs – derived Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). The webinar, therefore, aimed to enlighten the participants on the value of using Hematopoietic stem cells in platelet production for thrombocytopenia treatment.

Also present at the webinar were CBNR Chairperson Dr Eddy Cheah Seong Guan, FSc Department of Biological Science Head Dr Nor Ismaliza binti Mohd Ismail, FSc Department of Agricultural and Food Science lecturer Dr Kwong Phek Jin and FSc Department of Allied Health Sciences lecturer Dr Michelle Ng Yeen Tan. The webinar saw 137 participants from UTAR, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Sunway University (Malaysia), Newcastle University (United Kingdom), University of Nottingham (United Kingdom), Mahidol University (Thailand), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand) and Prince of Songkla University (Thailand).

Dr Cheah giving his opening speech

In his welcome speech, Dr Cheah said, “In recent years, stem cell therapy has become a very promising research topic and the current market for stem cell therapy has also expanded significantly. Besides that, the wide variety of possibilities made stem cell therapy a turning point in modern medicine. It is providing hope for some of the world’s most challenging diseases. In order to provide a platform for research collaboration opportunities with Malaysian research institutions in this stem cell research area, CBNR invited Dr Chanchao who is an expert in stem cell and blood production to share her research study at this webinar.”

The opening speech was followed by Dr Chanchao’s sharing on her research. She kick-started her talk by introducing her research team member from SiSCR. Throughout the talk, she discussed the role of Hippo in signalling pathway on pluripotency and the differentiation in the capacity of iPSC and HSCs when the expression of some Hippo signalling component genes is altered. She also discussed the potential use of an FDA (approved drug) in the generation of blood cells.

Dr Chanchao introducing her research team members from SiSCR

While explaining about blood transfusion, Dr Chanchao said, “Blood transfusion is potentially a life-saving procedure that can help replace blood lost due to surgery or injury. In addition, a blood transfusion also helps when an illness prevents your body from making blood. If your body is missing one or more of the components that make up healthy blood, a transfusion can help replace what your body is missing.”

She added, “Many hospitals are facing blood supply shortage. In order to solve the problem, we developed an in vitro production system as an alternative for someone who needs blood supply. This is because an inadequate blood supply may pose danger to patients if the proper amount and type of blood is not made available when needed.”

Dr Chanchao also talked about the reliability of stem cell-derived blood product as well as the crucial role of Hippo pathway. She mentioned two strong points that sustained the stem cell-derived blood product. “Firstly, the bone marrow transplantation procedure is already well established. Secondly, blood cell can be sorted into pure population before transplantation or transfusion,” said Dr Chanchao.

Dr Chanchao explaining the crucial role of the Hippo pathway

To view the full video, click here.

Dr Chanchao (top row, second from left) taking group photos with participants

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