Researchers Find that Stem Cells May Prove Useful for Blood Transfusions

Sep 12, 2011   

On September 1, 2011, researchers announced that they may have discovered what may become a new option for blood transfusions. Appearing in this months issue of the journal Blood, found here, the study findings detail how researchers were able to take cultured red blood cells (cRBC) derived from a patients stem cells and re-infuse the cultured cells back into the patient.

According to the findings, the red blood cells survived approximately as long as native RBCs. Although researchers have previously had success culturing red blood cells from hematopoetic stem cells (HSCs), this study is the first showing that these blood cells can survive in the human body. While researchers caution that the findings are still preliminary, this process may change the way blood transfusions are administered in the future. Potentially serving as an alternative to traditional sources of transfusable blood in the coming years, research regarding the capabilities of HSCs has been ongoing.

As we previously reported, researchers have been studying the potential of HSCs in a variety of areas, such as tissue repair and in the treatment of blood disorders. However, because questions surround the regulation of stem cells and other tissues, progress has not been as fruitful as researchers once hoped. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency tasked with regulating these emerging areas, has been slow moving as compared to the rapid pace of innovation. While the FDA has regulations pertaining to human cells and tissues, the intricacies of these regulations have yet to be refined. For instance, the FDA currently regulates stem cells as human tissues, biologics, new drugs, etc., depending on a number of factors, including where the cells are derived from, how they are cultured, and the purpose they will be used for. Thus, compliance with applicable federal regulations can be tricky, and medical advancement may outreach the potential of the current regulatory scheme.    

While scientific advances in this area are continually being made, Fuerst Ittleman will continue to monitor the progress and development of HSC research and other stem cell-related issues.

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