Scientists to create synthetic blood

University researchers have begun working on production of synthetic blood, which could become a source for transfusions.

hands putting fluid into a pipette tray

Researchers have launched a three-year project to produce blood from embryonic stem cells.

Life-saving research

A supply of infection-free synthetic blood could help save the lives of many.

Currently patients in need of transfusions rely on human donations.

In many parts of the world blood transfusions carry a risk of HIV or hepatitis.

Rare blood group

The multi-million pound research is being funded by the NHS, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and the Wellcome Trust.

The researchers will test human embryos to find those that are genetically programmed to develop into the O-negative blood group - which can be given to anyone without risk of tissue rejection.

This blood group is relatively rare - found in about 7 per cent of the population - but could be produced from embryonic stem cells because of their ability to multiply in the laboratory.

Emergency treatment

Scientists hope to stimulate embryonic stem cells to develop into mature, oxygen-carrying red blood cells for emergency transfusions.

The project will be led by Marc Turner, Professor of Cellular Therapy at the University and also director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.

Scientists from the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University are also involved.