Monday, August 1, 2016

Immortal Stem Cells Allow Scientists To Create An Unlimited Supply Of Artificial Blood

Do you ever close your eyes and think, "Please future, hurry up and get here"? There seem to be tons of amazing things just over the horizon, promising a life of incomparable convenience, ease, and wellness. Of course, it's always been that way. Compared to the previous generation, we are living in the future. And it looks like the next generation will have it even better – as it should be.

Researchers at the University of Bristol in Britain have developed a method of producing an unlimited supply of artificial blood using immortal stem cells.

The stem cells typically used to make artificial blood tend to fizzle after producing no more than 50,000 red blood cells. Given that an average bag of donated blood contains about a trillion red blood cells, that's not very much.

However, the Bristol team stopped adult stem cells early in their development so they can expand and replicate indefinitely.

Dr. Jan Frayne, who worked on the team, said, "We have demonstrated a feasible way to sustainably manufacture red cells for clinical use. We've grown liters of it."

Artificial blood isn't about to replace blood donation anytime soon, but the Bristol team's breakthrough is particularly big for people with rare blood groups and blood diseases. 

“The patients who stand to potentially benefit most are those with complex and life-limiting conditions like sickle cell disease and thalassemia, which can require multiple transfusions of well-matched blood," said Professor Dave Anstee, Director of the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit in Red Cell Products. 

Trials of man-made blood are expected to begin in late 2017, although the Bristol team's cells won't be included in those trials.

Even if they were, the artificial blood still can't be produced on a large scale – yet. "To produce that much at scale is quite a challenge, and really the next phase of our work is to look at methods of expanding the yield," said Dave.


Author: verified_user