As a species, humanity is getting good at creating artificial body parts: from artificial hearts and other organs to limbs and prosthetics. Obviously, creating artificial blood is the natural next step, especially considering how expensive and time consuming and sometimes dangerous it is to suck blood out of humans just to give to other humans. Scientists at Wellcome Trust have created a form of artificial universal blood made from stem cells that is just about ready for testing in humans needing transfusions, potentially making blood something that can be mass produced.
The research team developed a way of creating red blood cells from stem cells. The process works like this: scientists create stem cells by taking cells from the human body and “rewinding” them back into stem cells. They then re-create conditions that mimic those of the human body: this turns the stem cells into red blood cells, specifically blood that's type O, the universal donor type.
Artificial blood isn’t new to science, but this is the first time that the final product meets standards for actual transfusion into a human body. The first human clinical trials will probably happen in late 2016 or early 2017. This new method paves the way for manufacturing artificial blood on a large scale in the future, getting rid of blood shortages, particularly in third world countries, once and for all. However, the manufacturing process must be highly efficient and fast: transfusions in the U.S. alone involve over 14 million units of blood. To put that into perspective: one unit of blood equals a trillion red blood cells.
The current process that the Wellcome Trust researchers are using to create the artifical blood is not replicable on an industrial scale, but we're still optimistic about a future full of blood factories. Because that's not creepy at all.
Via The Telegraph