It’s not exactly Tru Blood, but scientists have created synthetic blood and are testing how the human body reacts. The lab-grown red blood cells are not intended for vampires, but rather for people with rare blood disorders who need regular transfusions. A recent clinical trial showed no ill effects when scientists gave small amounts, about a teaspoon or two, to a couple of patients. That’s a small percentage of the average human’s roughly 10 pints of blood. But it’s an important step in the process. And while this breakthrough probably won’t encourage any vampires to out themselves, maybe it will inspire some storylines in the upcoming True Blood reboot.
We learned about this research on CNBC. The clinical trials will now scale up to include more people but it will take years before the technique is approved for widespread medical use. Even then, the vast majority of blood transfusions will continue to rely on donations. But for those with sickle cell anemia and other blood disorders that require frequent transfusions, it could provide more time between treatments.
According to a news release from the U.K.’s National Health Service, scientists created the lab-grown red blood cells from donor stem cells. They tagged the transfusion with radioactive dye used in medical procedures to see how long the synthetic blood stays in the body. Red blood cells live an average of 120 days. Donated blood is a mix of old and new cells, which means transfusions don’t last the full time span. But the synthetic blood is all new, which means it may not expire as quickly, allowing more time between treatments.
This is only the latest experiment we’ve heard about that includes lab-grown human body parts or organs. There’s brain cells that can play Pong, 3D-printed ear transplants, and human skin grown on robotic fingers.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.