For the first time in history, British scientists have transfused red blood cells grown from stem cells into a human. They were obtained from blood samples from the UK National Health Service donor database. First, stem cells were isolated from the biomaterial, then blood cells were grown from them.

At the moment, two volunteers have already received “laboratory” blood: they were transfused with 5-10 milliliters of liquid. They are being monitored and no side effects have been reported so far. In the future, it is planned to transfuse donor and laboratory red blood cells to at least 10 subjects: this is how scientists want to determine which ones live longer.

“We hope that erythrocytes grown in the laboratory will live longer than ordinary donor ones,” said lead author of the study, professor at the University of Cambridge Cedric Givert. “If our trial, which is the first of its kind in the world, is successful, it will mean that patients who now need regular long-term blood transfusions will need fewer such procedures in the future. It will change their treatment.”

asked First Deputy General Director of the National Research Center for Hematology of the Ministry of Health of Russia, transfusiologist, candidate of medical sciences Tatyana Gaponova comment on this study and explain why it is necessary to create artificial blood.

Dmitry Pisarenko, : How relevant is this development? Who will need such blood in the first place?

Tatyana Gaponova: — The technology of obtaining erythrocytes from human hematopoietic stem cells opens up broad prospects in science and medicine. “Laboratory” erythrocytes will help those patients who need regular, sometimes lifelong blood transfusions – with sickle cell anemia, aplastic anemia, thalassemia and other diseases, as well as patients with rare blood groups, for whom the problem of lack of compatible donor erythrocytes is always relevant. Obtaining fully mature erythrocytes in vitro (“in a test tube” – ) will allow to study the features of the process in normal and pathological conditions.

What are the advantages of artificial blood over donated red blood cells?

– All erythrocytes grown in the laboratory are of a young age. This means that they will circulate in the recipient’s blood longer – up to 120 days, while donor erythrocytes are a mixture of cells of different ages and live only 28 days. Thus, it will be possible to do transfusions less often.

— Red blood cells grown from stem cells first appeared in 2011. Why were clinical trials carried out only after 10 years?

— The first experience of successful cell differentiation (a process that results in stem cell becomes specialized, acquires specific properties aif.en) in the lab and getting them for clinical use are two very different things. On average, at least 10 years elapse between these events. It is important not only to get the result, but also to work out the procedure, think through everything to the smallest detail: what conditions to take, what reagents to use, how to monitor the safety of the resulting product. These and many other questions need to be answered.

In addition, it is necessary to conduct preclinical studies of the safety and efficacy of the drug in laboratory animals. And only after all this therapy becomes available to patients in the framework of clinical trials.

The way to develop high-tech therapy requires not only a lot of time and effort, but also significant financial investments, the search for which also increases the time from obtaining a laboratory result to the first use in a patient.