Synthetic human blood from embryonic stem cells is the goal of an ambitious three-year project led by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. The cells can be made from universal donor embryos - the O-negative type.
A spokeswoman for the National Blood Service for England and North Wales told the Independent that negotiations on the joint research project were at an advanced stage and that legal, rather than scientific, issues were holding up the announcement.
A spokesman for the Wellcome Trust added that complicated legal issues were still being ironed out between all the parties involved but that an announcement was likely to be made in the coming week.
Researchers will test human embryos left over from IVF treatment to find those that are genetically programmed to develop into the ‘O-negative’ blood group, which is the universal donor group whose blood can be transfused into anyone without fear of tissue rejection, the report said.
The relatively rare blood group - it is applicable to about 7% of the population - could then be produced in unlimited quantities from embryonic stem cells because of their ability to multiply indefinitely in the laboratory.
There is a recent science-fictional reference to this idea. In the fall of 2008, American television audiences got their first taste of Tru Blood, a TV series based on the work of Charlaine Harris, set in a small Louisiana town. After Japanese synthetic blood hits the market, humans and vampires coexist for the first time. I'm sure you'll enjoy the following Tru Blood video, as well as the series, which is set for a 2009 season.