Successful attempt at generating red blood cells at the laboratory has raised hopes of the production of artificial blood.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) are trying to produce such blood.
They have already managed to grow artificial red blood cells from fibroblasts that have been reprogrammed into mature red blood cells in the lab.
The blood would be Type O negative, also known as universal donor blood, which currently comprises just seven percent of the blood donor pool.
“We have made red blood cells that are fit to go in a person’s body,” project leader Marc Turner, medical director at the SNBTS, has said. “Before now, we haven’t really had that.”
“Although similar research has been conducted elsewhere, this is the first time anybody has manufactured blood to the appropriate quality and safety standards for transfusion into a human being,” he has noted.
The GBP five million program has been funded by the Wellcome Trust and the artificial blood could be transfused into patients in a clinical trial setting as early as 2016.
If such blood can be industrially made, it would only contain young, healthy, and infection-free cells, avoiding the issues of pathogen contamination that have in the past plagued the donor blood supply.