Artificial Blood On An Industrial Scale

Kevin Mayer | GEN | April 14, 2014

It may sound like science fiction or an attempt to inject novelty into the overworked vampire genre, but the production of artificial blood, on a scale that would rival existing transfusion sources, is being countenanced by researchers eager to exploit stem cell technology. In particular, researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) are looking forward to assess how well people accept blood transfusions derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. Clinical trials assessing the safety of the approach may commence by the end of 2016.

A team of scientists led by SNBTS director Marc Turner, M.D., Ph.D. is heading the project, which reflects the combined efforts of the BloodPharma consortium, which has benefited from a Strategic Award, provided by the Wellcome Trust, in the amount of £5 million (approximately $8.4 million).

The research funded by the award involves multiplying and converting induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into red blood cells for use in humans, with the aim of making the process scalable for manufacture on a commercial scale. In hopes of refining the process, one of the BloodPharma consortium members, the Cell Therapy Catapult, intends to develop the nonclinical and clinical studies, and to provide guidance on data requirements for market access optimization.