Blood Cells Generated In Lab Transfused Into First Patients

In the first clinical trial of its sort, lab-grown blood cells were administered to a second patient, potentially paving the way for future therapies for blood disorders like sickle cell.

At the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) Advanced Therapies Unit in Bristol, stem cells from blood donors were purified and expanded to make modified red blood cells. The NHSBT and the University of Bristol’s Red Blood Cell Products Research Unit from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) are in charge of the study.

The longevity of the transformed cells was compared to regular red blood cell infusion from the same donor in the randomised, controlled clinical experiment RESTORE. Red blood cells from regular donors used in similar transfusions come in a range of ages. However, because the lab-grown blood cells are new, scientists anticipate that the therapy will work more effectively. They believe people who require frequent blood transfusions may eventually need less. Their chance of developing serious problems from iron overload, a risk of frequent blood transfusions, should decrease with the new therapy.

The trial’s participants experienced no negative side effects.

Red Blood Cells Made In A Lab Used For Clinical Trials

Ten or more trial participants will receive two mini-transfusions, spaced at least four months apart, if they have unusual blood types or complex transfusion requirements. The infusion of lab-grown blood cells might range in volume from five to ten milliliters. One transfusion of regular blood cells and one of lab-grown blood cells will be given by the researchers. This will enable researchers to test whether modified cells outlive naturally occurring ones.

This research offers great promise for those hard-to-transfuse sickle cell patients who have evolved antibodies to most donor blood types, said Chief Executive of the Sickle Cell Society, John James OBE.

Patients who need frequent or infrequent blood transfusions may, as a result, develop antibodies against minor blood groups, making it harder to find donor blood that can be transfused without such a risk of a potentially life-threatening reaction, said the Medical Director of Transfusion for NHS Blood and Transplant, Dr. Farrukh Shah.

This discovery marks a milestone for patients and means that therapy for those with disorders such as sickle cell could change, said Neil O’Brien, Minister of State for Health. Specialists from Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge, the NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility, and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust all worked together on the study, which was partially financed by the NIHR.