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Red blood cells made from IVF embryos

23 August 2010
Appeared in BioNews 572

Scottish researchers have taken a major step towards the 'holy grail' of haematology - the ability to produce a limitless supply of artificial blood cells. The team successfully produced significant amounts of red blood cells from stem cells harvested from spare IVF embryos.

Professor Marc Turner, Clinical Director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), told the Telegraph that 'Synthetic blood could transform medicine if made on an industrial scale'. Traditional blood donation is currently the mainstay of medicine, but there is a constant threat of shortages and the risk of infections being passed between donor and recipient. Synthetic blood is guaranteed free of disease.

The SNBTS team hope clinical trials of the synthetic blood will begin within five years. Dr Jo Mountford, from the SNBTS, told the Independent 'We're confident that we'll get the numbers of mature red blood cells that we need for clinical trials'.

But the new blood will have to meet strict regulations before it is available for use and some experts have expressed concern.

'Many good people who donate cord blood, adult blood or bone marrow, would not wish to be in anyway associated with this proposed destructive use of embryos, let alone research involving tissue from aborted babies',  Josephine Quintavalle, director of the Campaign for Reproductive Ethics, reportedly said last year.

SNBTS were given a £3 million Wellcome Trust grant to develop universal donor group (O negative) blood using stem cell technology.

Scientific breakthrough as red blood cells are made from IVF embryos
The Independent |  16 August 2010
Steve Connor: The promise of an unlimited supply for transfusions
The Independent |  16 August 2010
Synthetic blood breakthrough after scientists 'produce red cells from IVF embryos'
The Telegraph |  16 August 2010
22 May 2017 - by Paul Waldron 
In two different studies, US scientists have succeeded in creating the stem cells which produce blood...
29 June 2015 - by Dr James Heather 
The NHS has announced that it plans to begin testing laboratory-produced blood in healthy volunteers by 2017...
3 June 2013 - by Dr Amina Aitsi-Selmi 
The first human trials of synthetic blood look set to go ahead in the UK...
31 October 2011 - by Oliver Timmis 
Artificial blood, manufactured from human stem cells, could be used in patient trials within two years. The blood will be based on the universal donor group (O rhesus negative), a blood type suitable for up to 98 percent of the population...
28 March 2011 - by Chris Chatterton 
Scientists from Scotland have been awarded an extra £2.5 million from the Scottish Funding Council to continue their work into the development of methods to create red blood cells (RBCs) from stem cells....
19 July 2010 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
US and Japanese researchers have converted white blood cells (WBC) into stem cells...
25 January 2010 - by Harriet Vickers 
Rocking growing embryos during IVF could improve pregnancy rates among women undergoing the procedure, and decrease its risks. Scientists at the University of Michigan, US, have built a device which mimics the movement felt by embryos on their way to the uterus. When they used this during IVF with mouse embryos, they found pregnancy rates were 22 per cent higher compared to those grown statically...
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