With all the technologies and the intelligence rate we have now, it seems almost everything we know in movies have begun to take its place in reality. You know about vampire? Then you at least know about immortality. Humanity may have, deep down, longed for immortality, but morality sure won’t allow it to happen. But then again, being immortal isn’t so bad either. Therefore we can make use of it for something useful without damaging the morality and this world’s nature. We can use it for unlimited blood transfusion source for example.

Researchers have developed a line immortal stem cells that allow them to generate an unlimited supply of artificial red blood cells on demand.

If these artificial blood cells pass clinical trials, they’ll be far more efficient for medical use than current red blood cell products, which have to be generated from donor blood – and would be a huge deal for patients with rare blood types, who often struggle to find matching blood donors. (sciencealert.com)

Of course this isn’t going to replace the usual blood transfusion source. It will rather be used as alternative for lack of certain blood type transfusion need. As far as we know, not all people in this world are willingly to donate their blood, especially for those who are trypanophobia. Thus gaining blood transfusion for rare blood types are quite hard. This where the immortal source came to help.

Many conditions involving blood transfusion needs are common. From blood loss accidents to some sickness need blood transfusion. And these aren’t rare needs but very common needs.

Gaining blood donations aren’t that easy either.  The donator has to pass the clinical trials first before donating his/her blood. The requirements of the trials may differ in many places, but the system is the same. Not everyone can become a blood donator.

In certain cases, a patient could even die just because there’s no blood transfusion with his/her blood type at the time. Of course the easiest and fastest way is to ask for it directly to the biological family member. But this isn’t to effective either. Rushing to get a donator in crucial time without fully checking the donator can potentially cause some risk.

Immortal stem cells also takes time to develop

In the past, researchers had attempted to turn donated stem cells straight into mature red blood cells – a technique that works, but is an incredibly inefficient process.

Each stem cell only makes around 50,000 red blood cells before it dies off, at which point the researchers need a new blood donation. While a typical bag of blood used in hospitals contains around 1 trillion red blood cells.

the University of Bristol team took a different approach – they turned adult stem cells into the world’s first line of immortalised ‘erythroid’ stem cells – erythroid refers to the process that produces red blood cells.

They’ve called the cell line Bristol Erythroid Line Adult or BEL-A cells.

To create these ‘immortal’ cells, they effectively trapped the adult stem cells in an early stage of development, which means they can divide and create red blood cells forever without dying, which avoids the need for repeat donations.

The Research Result (nature.com)

Here’s a bit of the research result of the BEL-A cells research journal. You can check the full content on the link above.

Figure 1: Generation of immortalized adult erythroid cell line.

Human adult bone marrow CD34+ cells were recovered from frozen primary erythroid culture medium for 24 h, before transduction with Tet-inducible HPV16 E6/E7 construct. Cells were transferred to StemSpan expansion medium with doxycycline on day 5 in culture and maintained in expansion medium thereafter. (a) Schematic of experimental approach. (b) Representative cytospins illustrating similar morphology of cells maintained proliferating in continuous culture on days 57, 125 and 164. (c) Representative cytospin images showing morphology of cells on days 4, 10 and 18 following transfer to erythroid differentiation medium and of reticulocytes isolated by filtration. Cytospins of erythroid cells differentiated from adult peripheral blood CD34+ at comparative stages of differentiation are included for comparison. Cells were stained with May–Grunwald Giemsa reagent and analysed by light microscopy. Scale bars 10 μm.

Another Immortal stem cells

Another famous line of immortal stem cells used in labs around the world, known as HeLa, which was taken from the tissue of a woman called Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge.

Lacks was an African American woman who had a cancerous tumour biopsied in 1951, and never knew those cells were turned into the immortal HeLa cell line, which has played a crucial role in key milestones such as the development of the polio vaccine, as well as major cancer studies, and continues to be used today.

These BEL-A immortal stem cells, on the other hand, were specifically selected from voluntarily donated blood products with the sole aim of generating adult human blood cells.

Another Tought of The Immortal Cells Development

I personally “predict” that in the future there will be more surprises regarding this immortal stem cell developments. And I am sure that humans will continue research things regarding life and nature. But I do have consideration that this might lead to something that may not immortality, but rather similar to it. It can be something like “The potion of youth” or potent anti-aging serum. With correct study and research, it can also lead to a way of prolonging the life expectations.

We can also use it to maintain the existence of near-extinction animals. Or we can use it to develop another useful cells like self-generating cells.

You’ll never know what the future holds, but you can still expects something from it.