Scientists say that they have made a novel discovery by producing red blood cells in massive quantity they will help in a donation.
Red blood cells can be produced in the lab, but the problem is the scale. A team of researchers at the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant have designed a method to produce a surplus supply.
The artificial blood will be more expensive compared to the conventional donation. So it will mostly use by people with rare blood types.
The traditional method involved taking a type of stem cell that produces red blood cells in the body and coaxing it to do so in the lab. But, every cell eventually burns out and generated not more than 50,000 red blood cells.
The method developed by the Bristol team was to track the stem cells at an initial stage where they grow in number. It is named as making them immortal.
Once the researchers acquire this group of cells, they can just activate them to become red blood cells.
Dr. Jan Frayne, one of the researchers from the group, said: “We have developed a feasible way to sustainably produce red cells for clinical purpose.
“We have grown them in litres.”
Blood on tap?
The scientists now have the biological way produce red blood cells in massive quantity, but they still require the manufacturing technology for large scale production.
For instance, it is like a difference between home-brewing beer and a large brewery.
A single bag of blood has about a trillion red blood cells. The cost is the main barrier of this technology.
Prof Anstee said: “The first curative use of a cultured red blood cell product is probably for the patients with rare blood groups since suitable conventional red blood cell donations can be complex to the source.”
Safety trials of such lab-based blood are planned in later part of the year.
The research study was published in Nature Communications.