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Widespread artificial blood use only a decade away

Published on 27/10/2011

Researchers in the UK have predicted that artificial blood could be routinely used in NHS and private hospitals in as little as ten years’ time.

Edinburgh and Bristol university researchers have made thousands of millions of red blood cells from adult stem cells. Blood produced from stem cells would be free from infection and safe to use in up to 98 per cent of patients.

Prof Marc Turner said: "I think it will probably be two or three years before we get to clinical trials and I would think it will be a decade or so before one sees these kinds of artificial red cells or cultured red cells in routine general practice."

Scientists have claimed that within 20 years, it may be possible to produce two million pints of artificial blood a year – enough to satisfy the nation’s medical needs.

The blood could save lives on the battlefield, in car crashes, and in developing countries. In addition, heart transplant, bypass and cancer patients would benefit from a guaranteed blood supply.

The team at Edinburgh University are currently using adult stem cells taken from bone marrow, but cells taken from embryos are easier to multiply in large numbers. If scientists can develop this technique, just one embryo could provide all the cells ever needed for Britain’s blood supply.

Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, described the research as ‘fascinating’ and a safe, ready supply would make a ‘massive difference’ to patients.

It has been estimated about 150,000 women die every year worldwide from an obstetric haemorrhage, which could be prevented if they had access to a safe and secure blood supply. Compare private health insurance policies online now to gain peace of mind about your future health.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  Medical
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