The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to make blood from scratch, without donor blood.
The Defense Sciences Office (DSO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is hosting a Workshop to discuss innovative research that will enable development of an automated progenitor cell-based culture system to produce a donor-less supply of universal donor (Type 'O' negative) red blood cells (RBCs) for combat casualty care. It is envisioned that RBCs of normal structure and function will be produced and that the automated culture system would process cells from starter population to packaged RBC unit ready for transfusion. . . . The goal of the workshop is to explore: 1) culture techniques that stimulate and support the efficient and large-scale production of mature red blood cells from human progenitor cells and 2) automated cell culture systems capable of large-scale implementation of progenitor cell expansion and RBC differentiation protocols. Workshop participants are strongly encouraged to prepare posters describing previous or potential research in the area in order to facilitate discussions and formation of well-rounded teams. It is expected that the successful team will possess expertise in human progenitor cell biology and erythroid differentiation; RBC physiology, cellular support matrices/scaffolds; automated cell culture systems, and cell sorting, purification and packaging. In addition, teams should be led by a strong Systems Integrator and have experience with the FDA approval process for transfusable products.
--Catherine MacRae Hockmuth