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Human stem cells may produce 'artificial blood'

Scientists are using stem cells to create artificial blood that will be tested in the UK in two years. The scientists that are doing the research believe it could change the way blood transfusions are performed, preventing hospitals from running out of blood and saving thousands of lives from battlefield and car accidents. Heart transplants, bypass surgery and cancer patients also can be benefited from it, ensuring they have an adequate blood supply during surgery.

This kind of artificial blood can avoid infectious diseases. It can provide blood for almost everyone with different blood types. Researchers at the university of Edinburgh and the university of Bristol have given hope of life to many people by growing billions of red blood cells from stem cells taken from bone marrow for the first time. But regular transfusions typically contain 2.5 trillion red blood cells, so they do not currently grow enough to meet the need. Materials taken from human embryos in the first few days of life are more likely to split into large Numbers of cells, but so far researchers have not succeeded in producing real blood.

If scientists eventually find a way to make real blood, theoretically, it could just take one embryo to supply all the cells that Britain needs for its blood supply. Prof Marco Stern, who is from the university of Edinburgh, wants to create a cell supply of o-negative blood. This "universal donor" could meet the need for blood up to 98% of the population. He plans to inject a teaspoon of artificial blood into healthy volunteers within two to three years, doing his first experiment with blood made from stem cells in United Kingdom.
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