Health

Red blood cells

July 12, 2017

Every now and then, we hear of a catastrophe or a natural disaster that make humanitarian organisations worldwide step up their efforts to collect blood to help the victims. Blood is also an invaluable resource for medical research and testing and has so far been a scarce resource since getting blood means getting it from a living human being and those tend to value their blood and not give it out at will. Well the era of scarcity is now very close to its end as researchers have just developed stem cells that are immortal and able to produce an unlimited amount of red blood cells whenever required.

The potential success of the clinical trials of these stem cells could mean a vast revolution in medicine as it would change the way blood acquisition is perceived in medicine and would give a strong new hope to people with rare blood types who have always suffered to find blood donors.

  • Red blood cells are currently very much in demand in the present state of the medical field. For example, the UK needs a yearly total amount of 1.5 million units of blood to serve all its patients. And scientists have been working hard to find a new alternative to donations. One of the recent previous solutions involved turning stem cells directly into red blood cells but that method only produces 0.000005% of a regular hospital blood bag from one stem cell.
  • This prompted the scientists to look for a new method which is what led to the creation of the first ever immortalised stem cells called Bristol Erythroid Line Adult (BEL-A) Stem Cells, meaning the fact that they can produce blood. This was done by basically blocking the cells in a permanent loop of blood creation during their early stages.

According to the scientists in charge of the project, the purpose behind this endeavor is not to replace blood donations but to treat special patient groups with treatment that would be too costly or time-taking to acquire by normal methods.

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