Lab-grown blood injected into live human beings for the first time

Earlier this month, a research team at the UK's National Health Service announced that they had successfully performed a blood transfusion using lab-grown blood, in the first known clinical trial of such a thing.

Red blood cells that have been grown in a laboratory have now been transfused into another person in a world first clinical trial.

The manufactured blood cells were grown from stem cells from donors. The red cells were then transfused into volunteers in the RESTORE randomised controlled clinical trial.


The trial is studying the lifespan of the lab grown cells compared with infusions of standard red blood cells from the same donor. The lab-grown blood cells are all fresh, so the trial team expect them to perform better than a similar transfusion of standard donated red cells, which contains cells of varying ages.

Additionally, if manufactured cells last longer in the body, patients who regularly need blood may not need transfusions as often. That would reduce iron overload from frequent blood transfusions, which can lead to serious complications.

Here's a little more context on the science, courtesy of The Verge:

The milestone in this trial comes after decades of work trying to figure out how to grow these types of cells in the lab in the first place. The cells used in the trial were grown from stem cells taken from the blood of adult donors. The research team needed 500,000 stem cells to create 50 billion red blood cells, according to the BBC. Of that volume, 15 billion cells were at the right stage of development for transfusion. (For context, healthy adults have about 3 to 5 million red blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood).

So far, the trial seems to have been a success, and neither of the patients have transformed into Morbius The Living Vampire or demonstrated any other negative side effects.

First ever clinical trial of laboratory grown red blood cells being transfused into another person [National Health Service]

In world-first trial, lab-grown blood was just injected into two people [Nicole Wetsman / The Verge]