Luc Douay, a researcher at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris was successful in creating artificial red blood cells in a lab. The researchers were also able to inject it into a human and the results were positive without any side-effects.
A healthy volunteer was first selected for the program, and his hematopoietic stem cells were extracted from his bone marrow. Some of the basic growth factors that are required for the growth of a red blood cell were also mixed with this sample. Luc’s team labelled these cultured cells for tracing, and injected 10 billion of them (approximately equal to two millilitres of blood), back into the same donor’s body.
They found out that almost the whole percentage of blood cells remained circulating in the body for the first five days. Like in the case of naturally produced red blood cells, about (45-65)% of the blood cells remained in the body after 26 days of experimentation. As no serious conditions were registered for a month after the experiment was conducted, it was sure that the red blood cells injected were working like a normal blood cell, and carried the oxygen around the whole body.
This experiment is sure going to be a stepping stone to further technologies, and a clear way to produce an artificial blood reserve without the help of any blood donor. Though the numbers of blood donors have increased in the past couple of years, their reserve list is still short in some parts of the world, where the number of people suffering from HIV and blood cancer are comparatively more.
There are also researches going on in developing an artificial blood substitute that is known to be less toxic than the protein in its unbounded state. Such a substitute was first developed by Chris Cooper of the University of Essex in Colchester. He was able to develop a haemoglobin based blood substitute that could easily provide a solution for transfusion in worst cases like natural disasters, and combat fields. The main advantage of such a system is that there is no need to store it in a cool place like a fresh and stem cell-grown blood.
But the former technology has more advantages than this one. Since the blood grown through stem cell method resembles a real blood cell, it can easily alleviate some of the safety concerns that continue around the use of the current generations of artificial products.