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.