UK Researchers Point to Future of 'Mass-Produced Blood'
Scientists have been able to make red blood cells in a lab environment for years. The problem with the current methodology, which involves replicating the production of blood cells by certain types of stem cells, has always been one of scale. Now researchers at the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant in the UK say they have gone a long way toward producing an unlimited supply of red blood cells by, in effect, capturing stem cells at an earlier stage than allowed for by previous techniques.
"We have demonstrated a feasible way to sustainably manufacture red cells for clinical use," said one of the researchers, Dr. Jan Frayne, quoted by the BBC. "We've grown liters of it."
But doctors and patients in need of transfusions, for example, should not expect to tap into this unlimited supply of lab-grown blood any time soon. While the breakthrough in the new process for producing blood cells is clinically sound, researchers say that the technology needed for mass production is nowhere in sight. "To produce that much at scale is quite a challenge," Prof. David Anstee told the BBC, "and really the next phase of our work is to look at methods of expanding the yield."
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