A UK research project conducted by teams from Bristol, Cambridge, London, and NHS Blood and Transplant has begun transfusing lab-made red blood cells in humans, the world's first-ever such clinical trial.
The blood is manufactured from donated adult stem cells that are placed in a nutrient solution for 18-21 days, which encourages them to multiply and develop into mature cells. About 24 liters of the solution is needed to manufacture one to two tablespoons of red blood cells.
Positive news in the field of rare diseases should always be celebrated, but we shouldn't ignore the proven risks that come along with these types of trials. Though not always, the pursuit of artificial blood has led to increased heart attacks, and extra caution should be taken when dealing with such sensitive and unknown medical practices.
Though further research is needed, this study should bring hope to patients who have long dealt with multiple annual transfusions. This is also groundbreaking work in the pursuit of better treatment for those with rare blood types and diseases.