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Patients suffering from blood disorders won’t have to worry about finding proper donors in the future, according to the Washington Times.
Last week, two British patients became the first people in the world to have laboratory-grown red blood cells successfully transfused into them.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) said neither individual experienced any “untoward side effects” after they were infused with between 5-10 milliliters of the lab-grown blood.
The agency added that the patients were taking part in the NHS’s “RESTORE” clinical trial, where scientists are trying to determine if lab-grown red blood cells will last longer in the body than freshly donated blood.
Officials explained that the special cells were created using blood taken from donations. Researchers then separated stem cells from the donated blood, which were then used to create the lab-grown ones.
The trial currently seeks to give a minimum of 10 people small transfusions at least four months apart – one of donated blood cells and one of lab-grown cells – to test if the new cells can persist longer in the body.
NHS representatives noted that if the lab-grown cells are safe, effective and long-lasting they could be given to patients with various blood disorders, or those with very rare blood types.
“If our trial, the first such in the world, is successful, it will mean that patients who currently require regular long-term blood transfusions will need fewer transfusions in the future, helping transform their care,” said Cedric Ghevaert of NHS Blood and Transplant.