For the first time, a groundbreaking transfusion of laboratory-grown blood was performed

British scientists and doctors performed the world’s first two transfusions with laboratory-grown blood. The objectives of an innovative research.

For the first time in the history of medicine, a transfusion of laboratory-grown blood was performed. This was not a life-saving operation on a patient in need, but a groundbreaking clinical trial on healthy people to determine the safety and efficacy of test tube cultured blood. The goal, for the moment, is to obtain blood reserves dedicated to people with very rare blood types or conditions of resistance who, in case of need, such as the presence of sickle cell anemia, would have difficulty finding a donor. In fact, there is no single known AB0 system; just think that the International Society of Blood Transfusion recognizes dozens of different ones. The last one was recently discovered and is the Er blood group (specifically its variants Er4 and Er5). In the distant future, if the procedure became “industrial” and the costs were significantly reduced, thanks to the blood grown in the laboratory, the precious biological fluid could be obtained without always having to go through the good heart of the donors. , which are now absolutely essential to save lives and not weaken health systems.

The world’s first transfusion of laboratory-grown blood was carried out by a British research team led by scientists from the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the University of Bristol, who worked closely with colleagues from the University of Cambridge, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The scientists, led by Professor Ashley Toye, professor of cell biology at the University of Bristol’s School of Biochemistry, obtained blood samples from NHSBT donors. They then isolated the stem cells and used them to grow red blood cells in an NHS specialized blood transplant and transplant laboratory. The recipients, all healthy subjects, were instead recruited by NIHR BioResource.

During the clinical trial, at least ten volunteers will receive two small blood transfusions four months apart. One will consist of regular donor red blood cells, the other of lab-grown red blood cells. Each mini-transfusion will not exceed 5 to 10 milliliters (about two teaspoons), as the study authors indicate, precisely because it is necessary to verify its safety and efficacy. To obtain the “finished product” we start from about half a million stem cells which become 50 billion red blood cells in about twenty days of culture. After filtration, 15 billion red blood cells are obtained ready to be transfused. At the moment, transfusions have already been performed on two participants, who are completely healthy and had no side effects. Their identity has not been revealed as this is a “blind” study and is still ongoing.

One of the main goals of the researchers is to verify how long cultured red blood cells will survive in the recipients’ bodies. All should last at least 120 days, as they are all fresh and young. When the blood comes from a donor, the red blood cells are naturally of different ages. Having all the young red blood cells at all times can, for example, reduce the number of transfusions in a given period of time, avoiding the accumulation of iron that occurs in those who need a lot of care, with potentially serious consequences for health. British scientists tracked red blood cells grown with a radioactive (harmless) substance to label them and determine their survival after transfusion.

“This challenging and exciting experience is a huge springboard for producing blood from stem cells. This is the first time that laboratory-grown blood from an allogeneic donor has been transfused and we are excited to test the behavior of the cells at the end of the clinical trial, “Professor Toye said in a press release.” This research offers real hope. for patients with difficult-to-transfuse sickle cell anemia who have developed antibodies against most donor blood groups. However, we must remember that the NHS still needs 250 blood donations each day to treat people with sickle cell disease and The figure is increasing, ”echoed Dr John James Obe of the Sickle Cell Society.“ There will remain a need for regular blood donations to provide the vast majority of blood transfusions, ”the scientist added.

Many more studies will be needed before cultured blood can be used for clinical purposes, but scientists are confident this research will cure people with rare blood types and transfusion-related problems.

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