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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Artificial blood available in the next decade

27th October 2011

Scientists in the UK are working on artificial blood produced from stem cells.

And experts believe the artificial blood could be given to patients undergoing transplant operations within the next 10 years.

Clinical trials using blood from adult stem cells could begin with a couple of years and if successful, could become available were real blood is unavailable.

Alternative bloodlike substances are also being developed and these could be used as a stopgap until actual blood is available for transfusion.

Projects are under way at Edinburgh University and Essex University.

The Edinburgh team is taking adult stem cells from bone marrow and growing them in the laboratory to produce cells which look and act almost identically to red blood cells.

Professor Marc Turner said: “I think it will probably be two or three years before we get to clinical trials and I would think it will be a decade or so before one sees these kinds of artificial red cells or cultured red cells in routine general practice.”

Meanwhile, in Essex, scientists are working on a completely artificial alternative to blood which performs the same key functions and would be safe to use in patients of every blood type.

This could involve packing haemoglobin into a synthetic cell-like structure, or using a chemical to hold the haemoglobin together so that it can be injected without the need for red blood cells.

At present, around two and a half million units of blood – costing £130 each - are given to patients in Britain every year.


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