CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Indian J Med Paediatr Oncol 2021; 42(06): 528-532
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1740068
Review Article

The Future of Red Cell Transfusion Lies in Cultured Red Cells

1   Department of Clinical Haematology and BMT, TATA Medical Center, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Lorraine Flores
2   Department of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, NHS Blood and Transplant, Filton, Bristol, United Kingdom
Saurabh Jayant Bhave
1   Department of Clinical Haematology and BMT, TATA Medical Center, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Asheer Jawed
3   Department of Respiratory Medicine at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, United Kingdom
Deepak Kumar Mishra
4   Laboratory Haematology, TATA Medical Center, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
› Author Affiliations
Funding We would like to thank the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in UK, London, and University of Bristol for funding the training of the first author in Transfusion and Transplantation Sciences (including studies on red cell cultures) at NHS Blood and Transplant at Filton.


Blood is a very important resource for healthcare-based services and there has been a consistently increasing demand for it in most parts of the world. Poor volunteer-based collection system, high-risk of transfusion-transmitted infections, and emergence of new pathogens as evident from the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are potential challenges to the global healthcare systems. It is imperative to explore safe and reliable alternatives to red cell transfusions. Ex vivo culture of red cells (cRBCs) from different sources such as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), pluripotent stem cells, and immortalized progenitors (e.g., BELA-2 cells) could revolutionize transfusion medicine. cRBC could be of great diagnostic and therapeutic utility. It may provide a backup in times of acute shortages in patients with rare blood groups, and in cases with multiple antibodies or sickle cell anemia. The CRISP-Cas9 system has been used to develop personalized, multi-compatible RBCs for diagnostic reagents and patients with multiple allo-antibodies. cRBC could be practically feasible for pediatric patients, who require small quantities of red cell transfusions. cRBC produced under good manufacturing practice (GMP) conditions has been reported to survive in human blood circulation for more than 26 days. Recently, a phase I randomized controlled clinical trial called RESTORE was initiated to assess the survival and recovery of cRBCs. However, feasible technological advancement is required to produce enough cRBCs for clinical use. It is crucial to identify sustainable sources for large-scale production of clinically useful cRBCs. Although the potential cost of one unit of cRBC is extrapolated to be around US$ 8000, it is a life-saving product for patients having rare blood groups and is a “ready to use” source of phenotype-matched, homogenous young red cells in emergency situations.

Authors' Contributions

Rizwan Javed and Deepak K. Mishra contributed to conceptualization of the study. Lorraine Flores and Saurabh Jayant Bhave contributed to the design of the study. Saurabh Jayant Bhave and Asheer Jawed defined the intellectual content. Rizwan Javed, Asheer Jawed, and Lorraine Flores contributed to literature research. Rizwan Javed contributed to manuscript preparation. Lorraine Flores, Asheer Jawed, and Deepak K. Mishra contributed to manuscript editing. Saurabh Jayant Bhave, Asheer Jawed, and Deepak K. Mishra contributed to manuscript review.

Publication History

Article published online:
13 December 2021

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