Somebody ring the bell at the blood factory, because it’s almost time to get those assembly lines running. Almost. A team of British scientists say they have created red blood cells suitable for transfusion into humans, a breakthrough that could change the lives of millions — if it works.
The announcement comes from Marc Turner, a Wellcome Trust-funded researcher from the University of Edinburgh who’s been working with cells that have been taken from humans, rewound into stem cells, and then grown into Type O- red blood cells. (Type O- is the rare, universal blood type.) “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,” Turner told The Telegraph.
In fact, Turner himself has done a lot of that similar research. Back in 2011, Turner announced a method using bone marrow stem cells, but the finished product wasn’t quite yet ready for trial. And last year, a scientist from Transylvania (of all places) invented a type of artificial blood that worked in mice but, again, wasn’t quite ready to be tested in humans. However, if he sticks to his plan to complete at trial by 2016 or early 2017, Turner will be the first to make transfusions in human beings. From there, we’ll actually be able to mass manufacture blood in factories and improve a lot of lives in the process.
So you’ve got our attention, Marc “The Bloodmaker” Turner. Now let’s see this blood in action. [Telegraph]