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Has Canada developed a medical breakthrough?

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|May 21|magazine7 min read

It appears as if a medical breakthrough is taking Canada by storm. But what can doctors learn from this and is it too soon to start celebrating?

As reported by our sister brand Healthcare Global, there is a new development that allows regular human blood cells to be turned into nerve cells. This new achievement could potentially benefit millions, specifically those who are currently suffering from chronic pain or various nerve diseases.

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Stem cell researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario originally reported to CTV News, stating that they have learned to convert cells from blood into both the central nervous neural cells, as well as cells from the peripheral nervous system—nerves that are found in the rest of the body that are responsible for sensing pain, heat and itches.

If this new revelation surprised you, you’re not alone. Director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute Mark Bhatia was also taken aback by this recent discovery.

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Bhatia told CTV News, “Neural cells have a very distinct shape, but we thought we had done something wrong to the cells. They were behaving differently to make them elongate, moving from a round shape to a very long stretched-out shape.”

Though the idea of this breakthrough has been around for a while, the process of creating central nervous system neural cells and peripheral nervous system cells has never been accomplished.  

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What those in the medical field can learn

Doctors everywhere should take note: this achievement could allow doctors the ability to take a blood sample from a patient and quickly produce a million sensory and central nervous neural cells, Bhatia stated. Then, those cells could be looked at to try and figure out why people feel pain or experience numbness (i.e. diabetics).  

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