French researchers have come up with a method for producing red blood cells that may one day help overcome the shortage of donated blood. In the January issue of Nature Biotechnology, Luc Douay and colleagues describe a three-step protocol to expand human blood-forming stem cells up to 2 million fold and transform them into red blood cells.
Previous attempts to produce red blood cells in the lab haven't succeeded because the cells were not similar enough to true red blood cells. But the new protocol -- which involves growing the stem cells with growth factors and stromal cells, a cell type found in the bone marrow -- results in the large-scale production of human red blood cells with similar shape, maturity and survival capabilities in mice as naturally occurring red blood cells.
Stem cells are a family of cells that have not yet committed to becoming any one cell type and can in principle be expanded to large numbers if the right conditions are found. Further studies will be needed to determine whether red blood cells produced in the lab can replace donated blood for transfusion into human patients.
Luc Douay (Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris/Universite Paris VI, Paris, France)
Tel: +33 1 44 73 62 22
Also available online.
(C) Nature Biotechnology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza