Health: method enables mass blood production

Health: method enables mass blood production

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Laboratory blood could help people with rare blood types in particular
Again and again, people need blood donation after accidents, for example. Researchers have now developed a method that enables the mass production of red blood cells, which are then also suitable for use as blood donation.

Scientists from the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant researched a way to achieve mass production of red blood cells. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Nature Communications".

Red blood cells could already be produced in small quantities beforehand
The new results are a significant leap toward mass production of red blood cells, the authors say. Red blood cells can be made in the lab, but the problem is the amount. The research team has now developed a method to produce an unlimited amount of red blood cells.

Artificial blood is very expensive
So far, there has been a major disadvantage with this type of production. The artificial blood will be much more expensive than the blood of a conventional donation, say the experts. Because of this, it is likely that it will be used primarily for people with very rare blood types.

So far, only 50,000 red blood cells have been produced from one stem cell
The previous technology worked with a stem cell. This produces red blood cells in the body. The cell is then modified so that it also produces red blood cells in the laboratory. However, the cell eventually wears out. That is why it is not possible to produce more than 50,000 red blood cells with one stem cell, the experts explain.

In the experiment, cells are immortalized, so to speak
Using a trick developed by the researchers, the stem cells were captured early. At this point, they are still growing in unlimited numbers. In this way, the cells could be immortalized, so to speak, the scientists say.

New method enables the production of blood by the liter
When the researchers had this group of cells available, they could simply trigger a conversion to red blood cells. We have developed an effective way to sustainably manufacture red cells for clinical use, explains author Dr. Jan Frayne. We were able to produce liters of blood using this method, the expert added.

More research is needed
The researchers now have the biological resource for mass production of red blood cells, but they still need the manufacturing technology for mass production. The research work is therefore far from over. The difference is comparable to the difference between a home brewery and a professional large brewery, the doctors add.

Further research is a challenge for bioengineering
Producing blood cells on such a scale is extremely demanding, according to the researchers. The next phase of the research is to develop new methods that allow an increase in the yield. However, this is a real challenge for bioengineering, the experts explain. The costs are expected to be a massive barrier to the widespread use of manufactured blood, the scientists add.

Studies on the safety of the blood produced could start this year
So far, there are no plans to replace the traditional method of donated blood, doctors say. However, there are major problems in the care of certain people who have a particularly rare blood type. Patients with rare blood types are likely to receive the first therapeutic use of a cultured red cell product because appropriate conventional donations of red blood cells can be difficult to obtain, explains author Professor Anstee of NHS Blood and Transplant. Laboratory blood safety studies are planned for this year. (as)

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