Major Breakthrough Enables Mass Produced Artificial Blood

Posted: Mar 27 2017, 4:32am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Major Breakthrough Enables Mass Produced Artificial Blood
Continuously expanding cells – images of the immortalised early erythroid cells, labelled with number of days since immortalisation, demonstrating no change in morphology of the cells with extended time in continuous culture. Credit: University of Bristol
  • New Disocvery Leads to First Form of Mass-Produced Blood being Available

A recent finding by scientists has led to the first form of mass-produced blood being available.

While red blood cells can be made in the lab, it is mass production where the issues arise in the first place. Yet now a team of researchers has made this obstacle obsolete as well. Artificial blood that will be available in huge quantities is a possibility now. However, it will be quite expensive and so the only blood types for which it will be made will be rare ones.

A stem cell that makes red blood cells in the context of the human body is cajoled into doing so in lab settings. The only problem is that each one of these cells faces burnout after producing 50,000 red blood cells.

The real magic lies in trapping the stem cells at an early stage in their history and thus coaxing them to produce red blood cells indefinitely. This procedure is also called making these cells immortal.

Once the process is set in motion, the red blood cells just continue being made one after the other. Thus they have a clinical application. Up until now, the researchers have manufactured liters of blood this way.

The finishing touches on this artificial blood are not over just yet. More work needs to be done before the process is fine-tuned enough for mass production.

While the technique is here, the technology needed to mass-produce red blood cells remains unavailable. The difference between the two is like that between a home-made beer-brewing still on a small-scale and a full-fledged brewery.

A single bag of blood contains a trillion red blood cells. This is thus an obstacle of bioengineering. It will require a quantum leap and will be a feat of the imagination to accomplish.

Just to make that much blood is a real task and the inquiry into the expansion of this yield is what the next step is for scientists. Especially the costs are astronomical and will somehow have to be brought down by hook or by crook.

However, the NHS has declared that it has no plans on moving away from naturally donated blood. That is the way things ought to be and that is the way they should remain.

The only exceptions are in case of people who have rare types of blood like those possessing the group AB. In these cases, due to the non-availability of a donor, artificial blood may be a last resort.

The findings of this study got published in the journal Nature Communications.

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