It is hoped that a new trial will help to revolutionise treatment for people who struggle to find matching blood, by growing red blood cells in a lab and transferring them to another person.
The RESTORE trial is a joint initiative by NHS Blood Transplant and the University of Bristol, working with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University of Cambridge, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility. It is funded in part by a grant from the National Institute for Health and Care Research.
The trial studies the lifespan of lab-grown cells in comparison with infusions of standard red blood cells from the same donor. Tiny amounts, said to be the equivalent to a couple of spoonfuls, are being tested to see how the lab-grown cells perform inside the body.
Whilst standard donated red cells contain cells of varying ages, the lab-grown blood cells are all fresh, so it is expected that they will perform better. If manufactured cells can last longer within the body, it could mean that patients who regularly need blood may not require transfusions as often.
New volunteers for the trial will be recruited through the NIHR Cambridge BioResource and study clinical team and will receive their infusions in the NIHR and Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Cambridge University Hospitals note that the research marks “a significant step” in using lab-grown blood cells to improve treatment for people with rare blood types or complex transfusion needs.