The research could lead to new therapies for people who suffer from aggressive motor-neuron and gut-related conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.

"The potential implications of this research are vast," said the study's lead author Sareen from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.

By using a deceased patient's stored blood samples, the researchers found that they can develop stem cells known as iPSCs in a petri dish - essentially reanimating diseased cells from patients long after they have died.

This approach allows researchers to connect the dots between a deceased patient's symptoms, genetic information contained in DNA and the behaviour of stem cells in the lab.

This, in turn, enables investigators to study the biological mechanisms behind diseases and potentially design new therapies.

The technique also allows physicians to replace invasive biopsy procedures typically required of living patients to create iPSC cells.

"These novel developments allow us to create new lines of stem cells from literally millions of patient samples stored in large repositories," said Clive Svendsen from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The study was published in the journal STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.

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