In the body, the bone marrow produces hematopoietic stem cells, “mother” cells that are the source of numerous blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets). Today, no synthetic treatment or drug can replace human blood, but British researchers believe in this possibility and even hope to prove it. Because in Great Britain they conducted for the first time a study consisting in the transfusion of two patients with red blood cells grown in the laboratory. The volunteers experienced no side effects or signs of rejection of blood grown from donor stem cells, as confirmed by the results of this joint project between the National Health Service Blood and Transplant, the University of Bristol and the University of Cambridge. Called “RESTORE,” the latter is only in its infancy, but it could eventually revolutionize the treatment of people with blood disorders and improve access to rare blood groups.
Please note that the idea is not to replace regular blood donations, which will continue to make up the majority of transfusions. ” In the future, the cells produced could only be used for a very small number of patients with very complex transfusion needs. “, Thus indicate the three organizations. But it would be about producing very rare blood groups, difficult to find but vital for people who depend on regular blood transfusions in the case, for example, of sickle cell anemia (red blood cell disease characterized by an abnormality of hemoglobin, the main protein of red blood cells). The objectives of this project are multiple for the scientific team, as they also want to study the lifespan of cells grown in the laboratory compared to standard blood infusions from the same donor. In fact, the cells grown in the laboratory are “new,” which is why doctors hope they will last longer than a traditional blood donation.
Laboratory blood is fresher for longer
If this is indeed the case, people who need blood regularly, such as those with sickle cell anemia, may not need to be transfused as often, which is also a problem when donors are in short supply or patient group blood is rare. Red blood cells are essential for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, but due to a duration of 120 days, the bone marrow must continuously produce new ones. However, conventionally donated blood contains cells of different ages, whereas laboratory-grown blood is 100% “fresh” and should therefore reliably last 120 days. As at present, the process begins with a simple blood draw from a donor. From there, scientists extract the stem cells from the blood sample and place them in a nutrient solution for 18-21 days to encourage them to multiply and turn into red blood cells. The blood produced is then purified, stored and ready to be transfused.
Also to be discovered: What are the two rarest blood groups in France?
The other advantage of this technique is that both patients had to receive only small doses of blood, equivalent to a few teaspoons. The next phase of the clinical trial will be to recruit 10 participants who will agree to receive two mini-transfusions four months apart: one of standard RBCs and the other of laboratory-grown RBCs, to find out if the young red blood cells produced in the laboratory last longer than cells produced in the body. ” Patients who require regular blood transfusions can develop antibodies against the blood groups, making it more difficult for them to find blood from a donor that can be transfused without the risk of a life-threatening reaction. This test sets the stage for the production of red blood cells that can be used safely. “, Underlines Dr. Farrukh Shah, medical director of the NHS Blood and Transplant.
It should be noted that in France, the French Blood Center estimates that 10,000 blood donations are needed every day to meet the needs of patients, and that as many as one million people are treated each year thanks to blood donations. . If blood products are used daily to stop bleeding, for example during childbirth, surgery or after an accident, donating blood can help treat many diseases and cancers. Leukemias, lymphomas, myelomas, myelodysplasias are in fact part of the tumors treated thanks to blood transfusions, which allow in particular to compensate for the effects of chemotherapy. There are also genetic diseases that affect blood cells, such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, or hemophilia, with patients requiring lifelong transfusions. Finally, it also allows the production of drugs: it is more precisely the plasma, that is the liquid part of the blood in which the blood cells circulate, which contains proteins of great therapeutic interest.