British scientists grew human red blood cells in a lab for the first time and conducted a clinical trial to give them to patients.
The blood is grown by encouraging stem cells in a blood donor’s sample to become new red blood cells. In the new trial, tiny spoonfuls of lab-grown blood containing radioactive particles were given to ten healthy patients. The particles will help them track how long the blood remains in the patient’s bloodstream. A red blood cell typically lasts 120 days, after which the body replaces them. With lab-grown blood, however, it could be possible for smaller and less frequent transplants to be undertaken.
While British hospitals will still rely on blood donations for most blood transfusions, lab-grown blood opens the door to transfusion treatments for those with ultra-rare blood types.
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