Scientists used gene editing to improve red blood cell transfusion compatibility

Generating laboratory-made red blood cells with rare blood group types that could one day be used to help patients who cannot be matched with donor blood.

BrisSynBio and NHS Blood and Transplant created individual cell lines in which specific blood group genes were altered to prevent the expression of blood group proteins that can cause immune reactions. Dr Ashley Toye
BrisSynBio and NHS Blood and Transplant created individual cell lines in which specific blood group genes were altered to prevent the expression of blood group proteins that can cause immune reactions. Image: Dr Ashley Toye

The arrangement of blood for patients who require rehashed blood transfusions, and additionally for people with uncommon blood classifications, presents a challenge to transfusion administrations around the world. While most of the people can securely get a blood transfusion from donated blood, patients with blood issue, for example, thalassemia or sickle cell ailment require visit transfusions. With rehashed transfusion, patients, in the long run, build up an immune response to everything except the most particularly coordinated contributor blood because of inconsistency at the level of minor blood aggregate antigens.

Now, a team of scientists at the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit (NIHR BTRU) in red cell products, BrisSynBio Centre and NHS Blood and Transplant in Bristol, used CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene editing and created individual cell lines in which specific blood group genes were altered to prevent the expression of blood group proteins that can cause immune reactions.

In addition, they created cells that combined the deletion of multiple blood groups in a single cell line that could be differentiated to generate functional novel red blood cells with extremely broad transfusion compatibility. In order to improve compatibility, they edited transfusions of red blood cells to provide better treatments for those patients whose clinical needs are difficult to meet.

Dr. Ashley Toye Director of the Bristol NIHR BTRU said: “Blood made using genetically edited cells could one day provide compatible transfusions for a group of patients for whom blood matching is difficult or impossible to achieve within the donor population. However, much more work will still be needed to produce blood cells suitable for patient use.”

The study is the first that demonstrate the use of gene editing in combination with laboratory culture of red blood cells to generate rare or customized red blood cells for patients with specific needs. While the creators are quick to pressure the numerous testing specialized snags that must be overcome before this approach could be meant a clinical item, the work provides an energizing window into the conceivable uses of red platelets delivered from quality altered cell lines.

The research is published online in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.