Scientists have transplanted lab-grown red blood cells into two patients in the world’s first clinical trial without any unwanted side effects.
These cells, which take three weeks to form, could revolutionize blood transfusion for patients with blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and for people with rare blood types who may find it difficult to obtain good blood donations.
Blood cells obtained in the laboratory were grown from donor stem cells and donated to volunteers in an amount of 5-10 ml (about 1-2 teaspoons).
The trial aims to study the lifespan of cells cultured in the laboratory compared to a standard infusion of red blood cells from the same donor.
Lab-grown blood cells are expected to perform better than donated red blood cells because the blood cells made are fresh, meaning that patients who need blood regularly may not need blood transfusions as often.
“This challenging and exciting experiment is a huge stepping stone to getting blood from stem cells,” said Ashley Toy, Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Bristol and Director of Transplantation of Blood and Red Blood Cell Products at the National Institute of Human Rights. .
“We hope that red blood cells cultured in our laboratory will last longer than those obtained from blood donors,” said Cedric Jeffert, professor of transfusion medicine and consultant haematologist at the University of Cambridge and the National Blood and Transplant Health Service (NHSBT).
“If our study, the first of its kind in the world, is successful, it means that patients who currently need regular long-term blood transfusions will need fewer transfusions in the future, helping to change their treatment.”
The blood donations were taken from the NHSBT blood donation database for the experiment, and the stem cells were isolated from their blood.
These stem cells were then grown to produce red blood cells at the NHSBT Advanced Therapy Laboratory in Bristol.
At least 10 volunteers are expected to receive two small transfusions at least four months apart, which will include one of the donated model RBCs and one of the laboratory-grown RBCs.
This will allow scientists to study whether “young” red blood cells produced in the laboratory last longer than cells created in the body.
Dr. Farrukh Shah, Medical Director of Blood Transfusion at the NHSBT, said: “Patients who require regular or intermittent blood transfusions may develop antibodies against small blood groups, making it difficult to find donated blood that can be transfused without potential risk to life. threatening reaction.
This world-leading research lays the foundation for the production of red blood cells that can be safely used in blood transfusions for people with diseases such as sickle cell anemia.
Normal blood donors will continue to be needed to provide the vast majority of blood. But the possibility that this work will benefit transfusion patients is critical.
More trials are needed before its clinical use in patients. However, the scientists said the study is an important step towards the future use of synthetic red blood cells to improve the care of patients with rare blood types or patients with complex blood transfusion needs.