Scientists have revealed a new technique which could help them produce artificial blood, helping millions of people who need blood transfusions. Several health diseases require for periodic blood transfusions. Even if several people donate blood, the supply from blood banks seems to be insufficient. This is where science needs to intervene to save the day. Apparently, lab-made red blood cells are now possible.
Researchers managed to develop cultured blood to help patients who need several blood transfusions
The new study focuses on stem cell donation and growing them into mature red blood cells. Nevertheless, this method presents two major issues. One of them is that the process only helps to produce a restricted number of red blood cells. The second problem is that the blood donation needs to be repeated because otherwise, the donated stem cells die.
The new method was developed by a team of scientists at the University of Bristol, and NHS Blood and Transplant analyzes both problems. The method requires trapping stem cells during their early developmental stage, namely premature red cells. Scientists named this process “immortalizing.” Then, after these stem cells become ‘immortal,’ researchers need to coerce them to transform into red blood cells. Dr. Jan Frayne, a researcher who participated in the study, argued that the result is artificial blood, namely red cells from in vitro culture.
Artificial blood will help patients who are diagnosed with chronic diseases
Due to the restricted supply of red cells, patients who have rare blood types will be the first to benefit from the new technique of developing artificial blood. Nevertheless, those who will benefit the most are patients diagnosed with life-threatening and complex illnesses who need periodic blood transfusions. Moreover, areas in which the supply of blood is insufficient will also benefit from supplies of cultured blood, especially because of there a more decreased risk of transmitting a disease or an infection.
Now that the method was revealed, the next stage of the process is to ramp it up by building the technology needed to scale up the procedure and develop it on a large scale. However, this implies significant costs. Professor David Anstee, one of the researchers who participated in the study, argued that the new technique represents a “bioengineering challenge.” It is pretty difficult to produce so much artificial blood at scale. The next stage of the research is to find methods to expand the harvest.
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