Scientists have created red blood cells for the first time from spare IVF embryos ells in Britain as part of a multi-million pound project to manufacture synthetic blood on mass-scale.
IVF or In-vitro fertilisation is a process by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the womb.
Researchers relied on more than 100 spare embryos left over from treatment at fertility clinics to establish several embryonic stem cell “lines”, reports the Telegraph.
One of them, known as RC-7, was converted into blood stem cells before they were transformed into red cells containing haemoglobin - the oxygen-carrying pigment.
Scientists averred that the objective was to find cells genetically programmed to develop into the O-Negative blood group, one of the rarest groups.
This is the universal donor group whose blood can be transfused into anyone without fear of tissue rejection but is only found in seven per cent of the population.
According to the researchers, the aim of the project is to establish a manufacturing process to produce more than two million pints a year. A pint is 473 ml.
The research could potentially revolutionise medicine by ending the need to rely on volunteers to provide blood for transfusions.
The synthetic version would also be guaranteed free of infections. The first clinical trial of synthetic blood made from embryonic stem cells could begin within five years.