Scientists from Bristol University in the UK have successfully transferred laboratory grown red blood cells into another person for the first time in the UK. This major feat took place during a clinical trial, which was led by a UK team, including the researchers from the University of Bristol. The exciting new trial aims to look at the lifespan of lab grown cells in comparison to standard red blood cells from the same donor. If proved successful, the lab grown red blood cells could help to revolutionize treatments for those with blood disorders.
The lab grown blood cells were grown using stem cells from donors, and were then transfused into the volunteers. Using lab grown cells alongside transfusion would make it considerably easier to get blood transfusions to those who need it, and help to overcome the current struggles of finding a blood match.
The team is expecting the lab grown cells to perform better than a transfusion using standard donated red cells, as the standard cells contain cells of differing ages.
So far, the volunteers all appear to be fit and healthy, and haven't showed any undesirable side effects. Medical Director of Transfusion for NHS Blood and Transplant, Dr Farrukh Shah, expressed his gratitude: "This world leading research lays the groundwork for the manufacture of red blood cells that can safely be used to transfuse people with disorders like sickle cell. The need for normal blood donations to provide the vast majority of blood will remain. But the potential for this work to benefit hard to transfuse patients is very significant."
Using lab grown blood cells will also mean that those who rely on regular transfusions may not need them as often, as the manufactured cells would last longer in the body. In addition, it would also help to reduce iron overload from frequent blood transfusions, which can lead to further complications.