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A world first: lab-grown red blood cells transfused into humans
In a groundbreaking clinical trial, red blood cells grown in a laboratory have been successfully transfused into a person for the first time.
This innovative procedure could potentially revolutionize treatments for individuals with blood disorders, such as sickle cell and rare blood types, who often struggle to find enough well-matched donated blood.
The RESTORE trial: a collaborative research effort
The RESTORE trial is a joint research initiative spearheaded by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the University of Bristol, in collaboration with several other institutions.
This trial aims to compare the lifespan of lab-grown red blood cells with standard red blood cells from the same donor.
Researchers anticipate that the lab-grown blood cells, which are all fresh, will perform better than standard donated red cells containing cells of varying ages.
The potential benefits: fewer transfusions and reduced complications
If lab-grown blood cells prove to last longer in the body, patients requiring regular blood transfusions might need them less frequently.
This could reduce the risk of iron overload, a serious complication resulting from frequent blood transfusions.
The trial's progress: two successful transfusions and more to come
So far, two people have been transfused with lab-grown red blood cells without any reported side effects. A minimum of 10 participants will receive two mini transfusions at least four months apart to determine if lab-grown red blood cells last longer than those naturally produced in the body.
The future of lab-grown red blood cells
While further trials are necessary before lab-grown red blood cells can be widely used in clinical settings, this research marks a significant step forward in improving treatment for patients with rare blood types or complex transfusion needs.
For the foreseeable future, manufactured cells could be used for a small number of patients with very complex transfusion requirements, and NHSBT will continue to rely on the generosity of donors.
What does this mean for blood transfusion medicine?
As experts continue to explore the potential of lab-grown red blood cells, they hope that these cells will outlast those from blood donors. If successful, this trial could transform the care of patients who currently require regular, long-term blood transfusions, reducing the frequency of transfusions and improving their quality of life.
This pioneering research offers a glimpse into the future of blood transfusion medicine, opening doors to new possibilities and treatment options.
News tips: Henrik Ahlén