True Blood: The reality of making red blood cells
Many thousands of people across the world die every year due to a lack of blood. In the UK alone, 2.5 million bags of blood are required each year — following accidents, childbirth or operations. And before a bag of blood can be used, it must be screened and typed; an intensive process demanding rapid, error-free handling throughout.
But what if red blood cells, the vital oxygen-carrying component of blood, could be manufactured to order, creating a potentially limitless supply of tailored, infection-free cells? This is the key ambition behind a team determined to make blood shortages a thing of the past. To do so, they face numerous challenges, not least the ability to make such cells in staggering quantities.
In this short film, two of the team members, Marc Turner and Joanne Mountford, talk us through these challenges whilst taking us on a journey from stem cells to red blood cells. The other members of the team are Professor David Anstee, Bristol Institute for Transfusion Sciences, National Blood Service, Bristol and Dr Lesley Forrester, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine and The University of Edinburgh.
The project received funding from the Wellcome Trust Technology Transfer division.