Scientists from IIT Madras have created red blood cells from stem cells. And you know what? If all goes well according to their plan it can be used in blood transfusions. So what are stem cells? They are biological cells which are found in multicellular organisms. They divide and differentiate into various specialized cells and could self replicate them to produce more cells of their own kind.
Back to our topic, the story of artificial blood can be mind boggling. The two most common types of artificial blood are hemoglobin based oxygen carriers and perflourocarbons. Artificial blood is quite versatile than the real blood. It has long shelf life, does not need refrigeration and above all it does not need to be specifically matched for a particular type.
The researchers say that once the artificial blood’s oxygen carrying capacity is proved the red blood cells will go into mass production before starting human trials in three years time. Interested to know how they did it? The scientists cultured adult stem cells derived from cord blood and added some nutritional supplements. They did not use any expensive enzymes or growth factors but the yield was quite phenomenal……Times of India reports a billion times high.
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The scientists across the globe have been working on this but all most all attempts yielded 40% of white blood cells in the culture and this kind of transfusion for those with weak immune system can be tricky. The present research yielded an exclusive produce of red blood cells. The trials will be first conducted on anemic mice. I hope human trials will start in three years.
This artificial blood may be a boon because the demand for transfusions is climbing each day, though transfusion is safe in many countries: in Nigeria the second largest source of HIV infection is blood transfusion, it is valuable in battle fields, in trauma situations, is most cost effective, it allows full capacity of oxygen transport, is an answer to the cultural problems and shows potential for cancer treatments.
Photo of red cells by renjith Krishnan
Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net