According to the World Health Organization, approximately 107 million blood donations are collected globally every year. Nonetheless, blood is often in short supply – particularly in developing nations. Despite new safeguards, there's also still the risk of incompatibility, or of infections being transmitted from donors to recipients. Charitable organization the Wellcome Trust hopes to address these problems, by developing the ability to manufacture blood outside of the body. Last week, it announced that test subjects should begin receiving transfusions of blood made with lab-grown red blood cells by late 2016.
The research program is being led by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, thanks to the Wellcome Trust's £5 million (US$8.4 million) Strategic Award grant. Institutions collaborating on the project include the University of Glasgow, the University of Edinburgh, Loughborough University, NHS Blood and Transplant, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, Roslin Cells Ltd and the Cell Therapy Catapult, in collaboration with Bristol University and the University of Cambridge.