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Researchers find method to grow red blood cells on a large scale

A new method for growing red blood cells could eventually benefit people with rare blood types.
Red_Blood_02-iStock.jpg

Researchers have developed a method of growing red blood cells that could lead to a source of transfusions for people with rare blood types.

The team from the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant have grown cell lines from adult stem cells, which grow indefinitely.

These premature red cells can be produced on a large scale before becoming mature red blood cells.

The researchers say the method could benefit patients with life-limiting conditions, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, that can require multiple blood transfusions.

Sustainable manufacturing

They say they have demonstrated how to sustainably manufacture red cells for clinical use from in vitro culture.

An existing method to grow donated stem cells into mature red blood cells only produces small numbers

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Researchers have developed a method of growing red blood cells that could lead to a source of transfusions for people with rare blood types. 


The findings could eventually benefit patients with conditions that require 
multiple blood transfusions. Picture: iStock

The team from the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant have grown cell lines from adult stem cells, which grow indefinitely.

These premature red cells can be produced on a large scale before becoming mature red blood cells.

The researchers say the method could benefit patients with life-limiting conditions, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, that can require multiple blood transfusions.

Sustainable manufacturing 

They say they have demonstrated how to sustainably manufacture red cells for clinical use from in vitro culture.

An existing method to grow donated stem cells into mature red blood cells only produces small numbers of mature cells and requires repeat donations. 

The results must be successfully tested in clinical trials and the researchers say it will be many years before manufactured cells are available on a large scale.


Trakarnsanga K et al (2017) An immortalized adult human erythroid line facilitates sustainable and scalable generation of functional red cells. Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14750

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