December 06, 2022

Patients to Receive Synthetic Blood in Landmark Clinical Trial

Imagine being afraid of needles (trypophobia) or blood (hemophobia), so donating blood must seem like a nightmare scenario despite the altruism. Now, imagine receiving blood that has been grown in a lab? That fear doesn’t exist yet, but the technology to create lab-grown blood does.

The University of Bristol in Bristol, England – working in tandem with the University of Cambridge – has teamed up with several National Health Service organisations to establish the Recovery and Survival of Stem Cell Originated Red Cells (RESTORE) trials.

The RESTORE trials are the first of their kind with humans as test subjects: ten participants will receive two doses, with four months between transfusions.

The science behind creating the precious body fluid is quite simple: roughly 10 millilitres of laboratory-synthesised red blood cells – made from donor stem cells – are transfused into a recipient, and then tested to see how it compares to regular red blood cells from the same patient.

Expectations are that the lab-grown red blood cells will last longer than the typical 120 days of standard red blood cells – with no side-effects, of course. The results should prove to be exciting, as success means the technology will allow scientists to create stock for rare blood types, especially for those with rare disorders such as sickle cell anaemia requiring regular donations.

With wide-spread adoption of this technology, costs ought to fall and open the door for advances in quality of life under medical care.