The British National Health Service’s Blood and Transplant Division announced that testing of synthetic red blood cells, will be done on human patients by 2017.
This series of testing will be done as part of the 2020 Research and Development program’s blood and organ service.
Researchers said that they are committed to carry out the first early-phase trials using volunteers. The aim is to compare the synthetically manufactured cells with the ones of donated blood.
Scientists have been working for many years on figuring out a viable alternative to human blood. If successful it could solve many of the shortages that affect patients worldwide.
A top university is to house three research units which will work together on developing research results that can lead to human patient tests. A fourth research unit is expected to be enlisted soon.
Dr. Nick Watkins, NHS Blood and Transplant Assistant Director of Research and Development says the intention is not to replace human blood entirely but to provide an appropriate product that can be used in specific conditions including the ones involving donated blood shortages.
Some patients experience problems in receiving transfusions due to their rare and complex types of blood.
Many times compatible donors cannot be found immediately and prolonging the periods until certain operations are executed puts the patient at risk.
Through the use of synthetic substitutes for human blood, hospitals could afford to keep vital emergency procedures execution on time. Hospitals could technically keep emergency stocks of synthetic blood as a reserve for dire situations.
The NHS is being supported in this search for life improving scientific developments, by the National Institute for Health Research who committed funds totaling 19 million dollars.
The NHS 2020 plan for Research and Development will also include a program aimed at increasing the number of organ donors by 60 to 80 percent.
The plan also includes innovative treatments using stem cell research and information development into blood and organ safety while also simplifying the process of organ transplant.
The synthetic blood could help patients who receive blood in particular since during such complex operations which take a lot of time, blood transfusions are constantly necessary.