Researchers Work on Procedure to ‘Brew Blood’ to Fight Blood Disorders

Stephanie Pilick/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Stephanie Pilick/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Researchers are working on a procedure that would “brew blood” to help patients fight off certain blood disorders.

George Murphy, PhD, a stem cell scientist at the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Boston Medical Center, says he and his team are working on growing personalized blood cells in the lab for patients with sickle cell disorders and other diseases that often require that patients undergo blood transfusions, according to CBS Boston.

“We like to actually work on diseases that directly impact this under-served community, one of which is sickle cell disease,” Murphy said. “In essence, sort of brew blood.”

Under the procedure, researchers take a small sample of the patient’s blood, reprogram the red blood cells into master stem cells, and then coax them back into red blood cells unique to each patient.

This process would allow researchers to grow blood cells over and over again.

“We could actually make a stem cell line from those particular patients who suffer from sickle cell disease,” stated Murphy.

Claud D’Aguilar, who suffers from sickle cell disease, said such a procedure would be “a godsend.”

“Not only for me but other people suffering,” he said. “That would be a godsend.”

The process would also help ease the need for blood donations to provide blood for transfusions around the world.

“You could actually make a universal supply of blood that could be transfused into anyone,” Murphy said.

Researchers in the United Kingdom are also figuring out how to mass produce blood in the lab, BBC News reported.

Although the procedure is not ready for prime time yet in the U.K. or in the U.S., according to Murphy, blood derived from stem cells could be available to the general public “sooner than you think.”