TUESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Canadian scientists say they have discovered how to make blood from human skin.

The achievement means that patients may be able to use their own skin as a source of blood for surgery, cancer therapy, or treatment of blood disorders such as anemia, said the researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

They replicated this discovery several times over two years using skin from young and old people. The research was published Nov. 7 in the journal Nature. Clinical trials using skin-derived blood could begin by 2012.

The conversion from skin to blood is direct. This means it does not require the middle step of changing skin stem cells into pluripotent stem cells that can be turned into blood cells, explained Mick Bhatia, scientific director of McMaster's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute.

"We have shown this works using human skin. We know how it works and believe we can even improve on the process," he said in a university news release. "We'll now go on to work on developing other types of human cell types from skin, as we already have encouraging evidence."

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about stem cells.