If you have one of the rare blood types, and have given blood, you know what the demand for those rare blood types are. It can put a lot of stress and pressure on an individual with a rare blood type to always remember to give blood as often as possible, which is not always an easy task. Recently, researchers have developed a line of immortal stem cells that allow them to generate an unlimited supply of artificial red blood cells on demand.
While this new line of immortal stem cells will not replace the need for blood donations, it provides additional source of inventory for other red blood cell processes. One process that will benefit from this type of artificial red blood cells are treatments for sickle cell disease, which affects nearly 100,000 individuals in the United States alone. Another major benefit of this technology is it reduces the amount of infectious disease transmission.
Each stem cell only makes around 50,000 red blood cells before it dies off, at which point the researchers need a new blood donation. And while 50,000 might sound like a lot, put that into perspective, a typical bag of blood used in hospitals contains around 1 trillion red blood cells. Research continues on to find a way to increase the output from a single stem cell, but the work looks incredibly promising!