Scientists Announce That Artificial Mass Produced Blood Could Soon Be A Reality
Great news for humans, even better for the undead.
This is a crazy time to be alive. Scientists in Britain and Transylvania (seriously) have been hard at work creating mass-produced artificial blood that can power a clumsy human body, but doesn’t need to come from one. British scientist Marc Turner told the media on Monday that industrial mass production of artificial human blood could be a reality in the very near future.
Turner is the principal researcher on the project at the University of Edinburgh, and told The Telegraph earlier this week that the team’s artificial blood is fit for transfusion and he hopes to begin human trials in the next three years. In order to create the artificial blood, the researchers culture red blood cells from induced pluripotent stem cells — cells that have already been taken from humans and, as The Telegraph puts it, “rewound” into stem cells. Biochemical conditions in the human body are simulated, causing the cells to mature into Type O blood cells. Sounds easy, right?
Turner told the Telegraph:
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.
One of those “elsewheres” is, ironically, Transylvania, where artificial blood was already produced last year. Unfortunately although the transfusion worked in mice it isn’t ready for a human trial yet. By contrast, Turner says plans are already in place to test out his team’s research on people, likely on patients with thalassaemia (a condition requiring frequent transfusions) by 2016 or 2017.
Obviously if these trials are successful, it will be a huge medical advance. Explains Turner:
Although blood banks are well-stocked in the UK and transfusion has been largely safe since the Hepatitis B and HIV infections of the 1970s and 1980s, many parts of the world still have problems with transfusing blood.
Dr. Ted Bianco of Wellcome Trust, the company funding the revolutionary research, points out that translating the huge possibilities of Turner’s findings into a mass produced industrial reality won’t be easy:
One should not underestimate the challenge of translating the science into routine procedures for the clinic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the challenge Professor Turner and colleagues have set out to address, which is to replace the human blood donor as the source of supply for life-saving transfusions.
In the meantime, he probably added with a significant look and a lick of his lips, I’d love to have people over for dinner tonight.