Artificial blood made from stem cells could be used in transfusions in just two years, which would prevent shortages in hospitals, prove a lifesaver on battlefields, and at car crash sites.
The manufactured blood would carry a much lower risk of infection and could be given to almost everyone, regardless of their blood type.
Marc Turner, of Edinburgh University, hopes to make a supply of O-negative blood type, suitable for 98% of people. A supply of safe blood would also be a boon in developing countries.
Turner predicts that in two to three years, he will be ready to inject a teaspoon of man-made blood into healthy volunteers, in the first British trial of blood from stem cells.
Large-scale trials would follow, but the blood could be in routine use in a decade. Within 20 years, it may be possible to produce two million pints of artificial blood a year.
Turner isn’t the only scientist hoping to tap into the lucrative market of artificial blood. One idea being pursued is the use of haemoglobin, taken from cows as a blood substitute.
Does this suggest there are opportunities for opportunistic entrepreneurs to tap into the market?