British researchers have moved a ‘step closer’ towards a universal source of red blood cells, it has been announced.
In the proof-of-principle study, the team used targeted genome editing to enhance the compatibility of red blood cells in vitro.
The work has been directed at tackling the antigens which most commonly cause challenges in blood transfusion.
The project is being undertaken at Bristol University, UK, in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant and involves a red blood cell precursor cell line.
Researcher Ashley Toye identified five blood group proteins with antigens responsibility for incompatibility in 48 out of 56 cases reported to them.
They say that red blood cells derived from the line they have generated could, in theory, serve most of the challenging cases.
The findings have been published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.
A journal spokesperson said: “Scientists are still a long way from growing blood cells in the laboratory at economically practical and large enough quantities to use them for blood transfusion.
“However, once the technical hurdles are overcome, the first recipients of such cells will most likely be patients for whom it is difficult or impossible to find a donor.”
Source: Enhancement of red blood cell transfusion compatibility using CRISPR-mediated erythroblast gene editing EMBO Molecular Medicine doi: 10.15252/emmm.201708454
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