Goodbye to blood donations?
Updated on 23 March 2009
Scientists believe they could be manufacturing synthetic human blood from stem cells within three years.
From soldiers injured on the battlefield to cancer patients and burns victims, the need for blood for transfusions has never been greater.
Now British scientists are about to embark on a study they hope will lead to an unlimited supply of artificial blood.
Scientists in Scotland are hoping to become the first in the world to use stem cells to create a bank of synthetic O-negative blood. The blood type is the universal donor which can be safely transfused into anyone.
The technology uses embryonic stem cells and should guarantee the new blood is free of viruses like hepatitis and HIV.
How does it work?
- Researchers will test embryos left over from IVF treatment to identify which ones are already genetically programmed to develop into the O-Negative blood group.
- Stem cells from those embryos are then cultured in a laboratory and stimulated with nutrients and growth factors that convert them into red blood cells.
- As stem cells can multiply indefinitely theoretically you could make an unlimited quantity of blood from a single cell.