Artificial blood could soon become a reality thanks to the first successful human transfusion. Dr. Luc Douay of the Parisian University 'Pierre et Marie Curie' extracted stem cells from bone marrow and 'encouraged' them to grow and transform into blood cells by administering a cocktail of growth factors: finally he injected 10 billion of these cells (the equivalent of 2 milliliters) in the donor's spinal cord.
After 5 days 94% of the cells were still alive and circulating in the body: after one month the percentage passed to 63, a normal rate for all blood cells. The behavior of the blood in the test tube was exactly the same as that of traditional blood: the cells carried oxygen throughout the body.
The Italian Anna Rita Migliaccio, Professor of Hematology and Oncology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, confirms the goodness of the research: they could lead to a world that can afford to do without blood donors, a world with unlimited availability of this precious liquid, perhaps (as another team, the one led by Dr. Chris Cooper of the University of Essex in England hope to carry out research), a more comfortable 'blood' to carry because it does not require refrigeration.
What is missing from large-scale production
A single transfusion of this blood would require 200 times more cells than used in research: to obtain it, suggests Science, it would be necessary to be able to use embryonic stem cells, 10 times more effective.