Blood has always been something that has to be donated, since it can’t be manufactured. But all that changed recently.
Using human stem cells, scientists were able to essentially introduce fibroblasts to the stem cells and place them in surroundings that were similar to being in a human body. It was here that they matured and developed into O-type red blood cells that were then harvested from test cultures. This is incredible news, as blood centers and blood banks consistently deal with the pressure of maintaining local blood supplies at the willingness and ability of their donor bases.
The Impact on Modern Medicine
Obviously, this is a gargantuan breakthrough in modern medical science. The reality is that people still do die every single day from not receiving lifesaving blood transfusions, especially in less developed countries. So when will this artificial blood actually be able available to be administered to patients? The answer is simple: sooner than you think. Clinical trials are said to be expected to take place in late 2016 or early 2017 involving human patients being treated for thalassaemia.
Thalassaemia is an autosomal recessive blood disorder that is inherited and known to have originated from areas within and around the Mediterranean Basin. It can have very negative impacts on the patient and can cause complications with increased risk of heart disease, hemochromatosis, and slowed growth rates in children. The patients that will be tested receive blood transfusions regularly because of their disease and will be inoculated with only 5 ml of artificial blood at first. Provided the patients’ bodies react well with the artificial blood, further and more comprehensive clinical testing will take place.
Why It Matters
When it comes to clinical testing performed on humans, there are stringent guidelines and protocols meant to answer very specific questions that researchers might have. So while the test date is set to start in 2016, it could still be moved back depending on the progression of research and future findings. Still there are many benefits behind artificial blood that makes the research worthwhile.
In America, roughly 38% of the total population of citizens is physically eligible to donate blood, yet only about 7% of that total number actually do donate. This can put tremendous pressure on a blood center that is already struggling to maintain a safe blood supply for their local hospitals. Artificial blood is a way to help alleviate that stress. We can’t forget to mention the testing that goes on with human blood donations to make sure they are safe for patient use. One very unique trait of artificial blood is that it is disease free. It has been engineered to be disease free, and therefore can reduce the time (and possibly the need) it takes to test for diseases normally associated with human donations.
Only time and testing will tell how this will turn out, but we wanted to ask…
What do you think about the topic of artificial blood?
If you were to need a blood transfusion would you prefer it to be from a human donor or for it to be artificial?