For the first time, researchers infuse lab-grown blood into humans

In a medical first, researchers in the U.K. have transfused lab-grown blood into two people as part of a clinical trial, CNBC reported Nov. 7. 

The individuals received doses of the lab-grown red blood cells equivalent to a few teaspoons — the first stage of a larger trial designed to see how it compares to standard blood infusions. If proven safe and effective, manufactured blood cells could revolutionize treatments for people with blood disorders such as sickle cell and those with rare blood types, researchers said in a Nov. 7 news release. 

To manufacture the cells, researchers first separated stem cells from donors' blood. The stem cells were then grown to produce red blood cells in a lab. 

The trial aims to include a minimum of 10 more patients over the next few months. Participants will receive two mini transfusions at least four months apart — a standard infusion of donated red cells and one of the lab-grown blood cells — to compare the lifespan between donor cells and manufactured ones. 

Researchers said standard blood donations will continue to make up the majority of transfusions. Instead, they hope scientists can one day use the technology to manufacture very rare blood types, which are difficult to source, for those who require routine transfusions for conditions such as sickle cell anemia. 

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