Scientists Create Human Blood Using Stem Cells

September 5, 2001; Madison, WI (AP) -- University of Wisconsin scientists have coaxed embryonic stem cells to form blood cells -- a key step toward one day being able to make an alternative source of blood in a lab dish. The hope is to make blood for transfusions that is safe from germs, which cause diseases such as mad cow disease. Also, the process might ease the national blood shortage and offer a cure for cancer patients who need bone marrow transplants but lack a suitable donor.

The research team was led by University of Wisconsin scientist Dan Kaufman and included stem cell discoverer Dr. James Thomson. Their report was published in Tuesday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This is the first evidence of anybody that has done what we all hope can be done - to take stem cells and grow red cells and white cells and platelets for transfusion," said William Miller, a Clinical Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin and President of the Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin. "If you can get them to go this far, it ought to be possible, with refined techniques, to get large vats of cells" and eventually produce them in huge quantities to offer an alternative blood supply, Miller said.