Baffling Lab Mystery Leads to Major Red Blood Cell Discovery

November 3, 2015 by klm3b@virginia.edu

Researchers Can Trigger Production of Oxygen-Carrying Cells on Demand.

A bizarre result of a routine lab experiment has led researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine to an unexpected new way to trigger the production of red blood cells. This could represent a significant step forward in the battle against anemia, benefitting people with diabetes, people with kidney disease or cancer, and older people for whom anemia can become a chronic problem.

While more work needs to be done before the method could be used in people, the possibilities are tantalizing. For example, the approach could:

  • allow doctors to turn on red blood cell production whenever necessary;
  • be used on the battlefield to triage wounded soldiers until they could receive a blood transfusion; and
  • be used to treat people who cannot receive blood transfusions because of religious beliefs.
Click here for the full article and click here to listen to an interview with WVTF’s Sandy Hausman.