For the First Time Ever, People Are Getting Transfusions of Lab-Grown Blood Cells

Image for article titled For the first time in history, people receive transfusions of lab-grown blood cells

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A major clinical trial is currently underway in the UK. The study is the first to transfuse lab-grown red blood cells from donated stem cells into humans. If this research were to prove worthwhile, these blood cells would be incredibly valuable to people with rare blood types, although they would not replace the need for traditional blood donation.

The RESTORE trial, as it is known, is being conducted by scientists from the UK’s National Health Services and various universities. at least 10 Healthy volunteers are expected to participate in the study. They will all receive two mini-transfusions, spaced four months apart and in random order, of laboratory-grown blood cells and standard cells, both derived from the same donor. As of early Monday morning, two participants have already received the lab-grown blood cells and so far appear to have experienced no side effects.

The first such experiment is a Phase I trial, meaning it is primarily designed to test the safety of a novel or experimental treatment. But cells grown in the lab are theoretically fresher than the mix of newer and older blood cells taken from a typical blood donation (on average, red blood cells live for about 120 days). So the researchers hope that lab-grown cells survive longer than standard cells in their containers.

“If our trial, the first of its kind in the world, is successful, it will mean that patients who currently require regular long-term blood transfusions will need fewer transfusions in the future. [the] future, helping to transform your care,” said lead researcher Cedric Ghevaert, a hematologist and professor of transfusion medicine at the University of Cambridge, in a statement published by the NHS.

Scientists have long been interested in making blood in the laboratory. But it has proven challenging to replicate the complex natural process that allows stem cells in our blood marrow to develop into new red blood cells. RESTORE researchers believe they have found a more efficient way to extract stem cells from donated blood, to grow these cells using a unique combination of nutrients, and to purify enough healthy, mature red blood cells from the resulting concoction to be worthwhile. effort.

If this project turns out to be a success, lab-grown blood cells still No replace the donated supply anytime soon. The team process is far less efficient than what the human body can do. Currently, for example, they need about 24 liters of their nutrient solution to filter one or two tablespoons of red blood cells. Meanwhile, about 45% of our blood is compound of red blood cells.

evis if mass-produced, lab-grown blood cells are a distant possibility, they may still be able to help many people in the near future. One day, this technology could provide a more reliable and long-lasting supply of blood cells to people who have a rare combination of blood types or who have developed conditions that make it difficult to receive standard transfusions, such as sickle cell disease.

For now, this test is just the beginning. It’s will require more human studies and anywhere from five to 10 years of development before we could hope to see lab-grown blood cells available to the public, the researchers say.

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