A research team, lead by Marc Turner and funded by Wellcome Trust, has developed red blood cells from stem cells. The team is preparing for human trials in 2016. This technique could lead to factory mass-production of blood fit for transfusion into humans.
Prof Turner has devised a technique to culture red blood cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – cells that have been taken from humans and ‘rewound’ into stem cells. Biochemical conditions similar to those in the human body are then recreated to induce the iPS cells to mature into red blood cells – of the rare universal blood type O-.
This is just the latest announcement along a path which leads us into an age where the human body becomes replaceable. While you won’t be able to fill up on factory-produced blood soon, this news does suggest that the medical industry is starting to understand how to reverse-engineer the human body.
We are fast approaching the moment in medical history where fixing one person’s body will no longer require the use of someone else. Personalized medicine, 3D printed organs, and other new technologies are going to enable us to treat people without trying to force their body to accept blood, organs, and other donations. A factory which produces human parts may seem like a horror movie to some, however it is going to save lives and give the kind of quality solutions that our future will rely upon. It won’t be long until we look back on the idea of transplantation from person-to-person as barbaric.