With the help of immortal stem cells, scientists have designed a method to generate an unlimited supply of red blood cells. Although the process is costly, the artificial blood can help patients with rare blood types and during an emergency where there is a shortage of blood.
Previous approaches aimed at producing red blood cells that depend on different sources of stem cells that can currently only produce limited blood quantities. Jan Frayne, from the University of Bristol, said this recent approach, provides a more efficient way to generate red blood cells as it helps the production of millions of functional red blood cells that can result in the safe source of transfusion for individuals with rare blood types.
Immortal stem cells
In this new technique, early-stage stem cells or immortal stem cells are used to produce billions of red blood cells. Unlike the use of a current process that requires donated stem cells being grown directly into blood cells, which is slow, inefficient and requires repeat donations. The researchers gathered stem cells in their early stage of development, so that they can multiply for infinitely.
It was noticed that the stem cells produce only 50,000 red blood cells before they die out but the immortal ones can multiply and grow endlessly, which enables us to generate the large volume of these cells.
Where can these artificial blood be useful?
Researchers claim that they are trying to figure out various ways to generate red blood cells to provide an alternative to donated blood required to treat patients.
Benefits of artificial blood over donated blood
The artificial blood is not intended to replace the blood donation but as a unique treatment for certain patient groups, researchers accepted that these cultured red blood cells have many benefits over the donated blood.
Few advantages include reduced risk of acquiring the disease during blood donation. The contaminated blood can potentially transmit health problems to the receiver. Also, the artificial blood can help to minimize the volume and number of transfusions for patients with blood diseases and cancer.
Despite the great potential of this method to produce unlimited blood supply, the researchers accepted that it would still take many more years before this artificial blood becomes available on a wider scale.