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True Blood: The reality of making red blood cells

25 Jan, 2011

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.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. tommie record permalink
    4 Feb, 2011 5:34 am

    i have had low blood cell most of my 73yrs lately i am short of breath and a little dizzy i have had one bone marrow test and is schulded to have another i was never told what the first ones results were the last reading of my blood was 7.3 can i live like this
    thank you

    • 4 Feb, 2011 10:10 am

      Hi Tommie. We can’t offer medical advice, sadly. Please visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis.


  1. Phlebotomy Information - Basic Phlebotomy 101

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