Artificial blood may soon be a tool in the future of medicine

Red Blood Cells Photo Courtesy of Shaskin

Artificial blood, a substitute for real blood needed for transfusions, has recently become the latest innovation that adds promise to the future of medicine.

This replacement is manufactured by taking fibroblasts that have been reprogrammed into mature blood cells and growing them into red blood cells. Fibroblasts are cells of connective tissue that are critical in the process of wound healing.

This blood was developed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service . They have been producing Type O negative blood, which is known as the universal donor blood and can be used in patients with any blood type.

Marc Turner, the principle researcher of the project, told The Telegraph  the plans are for the trial to be conducted by 2016 or 2017, which are likely going to be through the use of treating three patients with Thalassaemia, a genetic blood disorder that requires frequent transfusions.

“Although similar research has been conducted elsewhere, this is the first time anybody has manufactured blood to the appropriate quality and safety standards for transfusion into a human being,” Turner told The Telegraph.

Being able to produce blood on a large scale has plenty of good uses in medicine. Because the blood manufactured is Type 0, anyone can receive it. It would also cut down the need and costs associated for blood donations, which would most likely cut down costs of blood when it’s needed in medical situations.

Turner does say there might be some challenges to bringing this production, mainly because laboratory conditions are hard to replicate to an industrial scale.

Hopefully, they can find a way to do this and save some human lives as a result.