Breakthrough: Artificial Blood Made From Stem Cells Could Be Used In Transfusions In Just Two Years
Britons could be injected with artificial blood within just two years. The blood – made from stem cells – would transform blood transfusions by preventing shortages in hospitals and prove a lifesaver on battlefields and at the scene of car crashes.
The manmade blood would carry a much lower risk of infection than the real thing and could be given to almost everyone regardless of their blood group.
The hope comes from Edinburgh University researchers who are turning stem cells, ‘master cells’ widely seen as a repair kit for the body, into red blood cells. They have already worked out how to make thousands of millions of red blood cells from stem cells taken from adults’ bone marrow.
This may seem like a lot, but with the average blood transfusion containing 2.5million million red blood cells, it just isn’t enough. Cells taken from human embryos in the first days of life are easier to multiply in large numbers but the researchers have so far not managed to make such realistic blood from them.
Other possibilities include turning slivers of skin into red blood cells, the cells key to the passage of oxygen around the body, said researcher Marc Turner. He hopes to make a supply of cells with the O-negative blood type. This ‘universal donor’ blood could be given to up to 98 per cent of the population.