“Lab-grown red blood cells transfused into a person in a world first”

Lab-grown red blood cells have been transfused into a person in a world-first clinical trial.

Scientists say that if proven safe and effective, the engineered blood cells could revolutionize treatments for people with blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and rare blood types.

It can be difficult to find enough well-matched blood donations for some people with these disorders.

But lab-grown red blood cells would mean people who need regular long-term blood transfusions may need fewer transfusions in the future.

Ashley Toye, Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Bristol and Director of the NIHR Blood and Transplant Unit in Red Blood Cell Products, said: “This challenging and exciting trial is a huge stepping stone for making blood from stem cells.

“This is the first time that lab-grown blood from an allogeneic donor has been transfused and we are excited to see how well the cells are performing at the end of the clinical trial.”

So far, two people have received transfusions of lab-grown red blood cells.

They have been closely monitored, no adverse side effects have been reported and the patients – who have not been named – are in good health, the researchers say.

The amount of lab-grown cells infused varies but is around 5-10ml – about one to two teaspoons.

The manufactured blood cells were cultured from donor stem cells and then transfused into volunteers in the Restore randomized controlled clinical trial.

The trial examines the lifespan of cells grown in the laboratory compared to infusions of standard red blood cells from the same donor.

Because the lab-grown blood cells are all fresh, researchers expect them to work better than a similar transfusion of standard donated red blood cells, which contains cells of varying ages.

If the cells made last longer in the body, patients who regularly need blood may not need transfusions as often.

Researchers say it would reduce iron overload from frequent blood transfusions, which can lead to serious complications.

Cedric Ghevaert, professor of transfusion medicine and consultant haematologist at the University of Cambridge and NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We hope our lab-grown red blood cells will last longer than those from blood donors.

“If our trial, the first of its kind in the world, is successful, it will mean that patients who currently need regular long-term blood transfusions will need fewer transfusions in the future, helping to transform their care. “

Donors from the NHSBT Blood Donor Base donated blood for the test and stem cells were separated from their blood.

These stem cells were then grown to produce red blood cells in a laboratory at the NHS Blood and Transplant Advanced Therapies Unit in Bristol.

Blood recipients were recruited from healthy members of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) BioResource.

At least 10 people will receive two mini-transfusions at least four months apart, one of donated standard red blood cells and one of lab-grown red blood cells.

This will allow scientists to know if young red blood cells made in the lab last longer than cells made in the body.

Dr Farrukh Shah, Medical Director of Transfusion for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Patients who need regular or intermittent blood transfusions may develop antibodies against minor blood groups, making it more difficult to find blood. donor that can be transfused without the risk of a life-threatening reaction.

“This world-class research lays the foundation for making red blood cells that can be safely used to transfuse people with conditions like sickle cell disease.

“The need for normal blood donations to provide the vast majority of blood will remain.

“But the potential of this work to benefit difficult-to-transfuse patients is very significant.”

More trials are needed before clinical use, but the scientists say this research marks an important step in using lab-grown red blood cells to improve the treatment of patients with rare blood types or people with special needs. complex transfusions.

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