Monday, October 31, 2011

Vampires get a taste of lab-grown blood

Good news for vampires and patients alike: Scientists in Edinburgh have generated red blood cells directly from bone marrow stem cells in the lab. This alternate source of cells could help the 4.5 million people in the U.S. who need a transfusion each year (from America's Blood Centers, which has many interesting facts about how much blood is needed and how little is donated).

Wired writes:
Professor Marc Turner, who leads the team, believes the blood could be ready for trials in as little as two years, once it's married with research producing artificial haemoglobin -- the protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood of vertibrates.
The team are working to produce blood type O-negative, which is good news, as that's the type that 98 percent of us can accept. Because it's essentially manufactured, it would be guaranteed to be free from any viruses and diseases, like HIV, Hepatitis and vCJD (mad cow disease).
The Telegraph quotes Turner, who led the project:
"I think it will probably be two or three years before we get to clinical trials and I would think it will be a decade or so before one sees these kinds of artificial red cells or cultured red cells in routine general practice."
- A.A.

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