Researchers in the UK on 14 April 2014 for the first time announced to conduct a test on patient of artificial blood made from human stem cells. The trial was conducted by the team of Professor Marc Turner, medical director at the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) at the University of Edinburgh.
The trial test would be conducted in 2016. The trial will involve three patients with thalassaemia, a disorder of the RBCs that requires regular transfusions. They will receive around 5 ml of blood initially to test whether the cells behave normally in the body.
If successful, the trial could pave the way for manufacturing of blood on an industrial scale. The successful trial could even supersede donated blood as the main supply for patients.
Blood cells freshly made in the laboratory are likely to have a longer life span than those taken from donors, which typically last no more than 120 days.
They would also be free from infectious agents such as viruses or the rogue prion proteins that cause Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
Trial test would aim to produce relatively rare O rhesus negative blood that can safely be given to 95% of the population, and the skin cell donors will have to belong to this blood group.
The blood cells will be created from ordinary donated skin cells called fibroblasts which are genetically reprogrammed into a stem cell-like state. The resulting induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to develop into virtually any kind of body tissue.
Chemicals will be used to coax the iPS cells to mature into red blood cells suitable for injection into a living person.
A 5 million pound strategic award from the Wellcome Trust charity have funded the research being carried out by a consortium that includes blood donation services in England, Scotland and Ireland.
When: 14 April 2014