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Articles / Medicine and Biology

A surgeon's job is never easy, especially when there is a blood transplant involved because it can be very hard to find a donor with the right blood type. Fortunately, this may become a thing of the past very soon, as the first transplant of lab-made blood into a human being has been completed.

Luc Douay from the Marie and Pierre Curie University in Paris was able to extract stem cells from a donor's bone marrow, make them grow into red blood cells through a variety of biochemical procedures and inject 10 billion of them back into the donor's body. After 26 days, 41 to 63 percent of them remained, which is a normal survival rate for red blood cells. These blood cells acted just like their natural counterparts, carrying oxygen through the body very admirably. It's not artificial blood by any means, it's real blood created through artificial means, hence the involvement of stem cells.

This is great news for medicine. Blood reserves are always a necessity, even with growing donor numbers in the developed world. Places like Africa should benefit from this greatly, due to the spread of HIV making it even harder to find the necessary donors.  

Despite all the lives it can save, mass production of red blood cells is not something we might see very soon. An average patient in need of a blood transfusion requires 200 times more than the 10 billion Douay experimented with. Embryonic stem cells, a very taboo topic, may very well make the process more efficient because of their greater growth potential.

By: Denis Ivanov

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