Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygenated blood fron the lungs to the organs and deoxyganated blood from the organs to the lungs. Researchers have come up with a way of generating an unlimited supply of artificial red blood cells. This process is waiting for approval before being used for medication. It will be a milestone achievement for patients who suffer from rare blood type of conditions like sickle cell disease and thalassemia. It will also help patients with rare blood group that struggle to find a matching blood donors.
Previously, blood donations played the trick, but according to statistics the UK alone needs a hopping 1.5 million units of blood yearly to meet the patients needs. Therefore, there was always the need to find a reliable source of red blood cell. In this case, researchers have come up with an immortal stem cell line that will continuously produce red blood cell, out doing the previous attempt where the stem cell used was mortal, producing 50,000 red blood cells before its useful life ends. 50,000 sounds quite a number, but it is a drop of water into the ocean bearing in mind a typical bag of blood used in hospitals contain approximately 1 trillion red blood cells. Researchers have called the cells BEL-A cells an abbreviation of Bristol Erythroid Line Adult cells. Erythroid is the process of producing red blood cells.
For the researchers to come up with these immortal cells, they first turned adult stem cell into World’s first line of immortalised stem cell. They then trapped the stem cell in its early stages of development, giving it the ability to produce red blood cells without dying. Hopefully, the clinical trials of these immortal stem cells will commence early next year and if it is successful patients with blood complications can finally get specialized treatment.