UK to perform world's first artificial blood transfusion in 2017

In a breakthrough healthcare step, the world's first human trial of artificial blood grown in a lab from stem cells is set to take place in the UK by 2017.

UK's National Health Services (NHS) blood and transplant unit has announced that manufactured blood will soon be used as a part of clinical trials on human volunteers. The research carried out scientists at the university of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant used stem cells from adult and umbilical cord blood to create a small volume of manufactured red blood cells.

Once proven safe for humans this product has the capability to be used as an alternative to blood in cases of blood disorders like sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia that require patients to get regular blood transfusion.

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The clinical trial of manufactured red blood cells is designed to compare the survival of red cells manufactured from stem cells with that of standard blood donor red blood cells. This will involve a group of 20 volunteers who will receive a small volume transfusion of between five and ten millilitre of the lab-produced blood.

'Scientists across the globe have been investigating for a number of years how to manufacture red blood cells to offer an alternative to donated blood to treat patients,' said Dr Nick Watkins, NHS Blood and Transplant Assistant Director of Research and Development. 'We are confident that by 2017 our team will be ready to carry out the first early phase clinical trials in human volunteers,' Watkins said.

'These trials will compare manufactured cells with donated blood. The intention is not to replace blood donation but provide specialist treatment for specific patient groups,' he said. 'Research has laid the foundation for current transfusion and transplantation practises. Continued investment in research and development is critical to our role in saving and improving lives through blood and organ donation,' he added.

Image source: Shutter Stock

With inputs for PTI

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