Feeds

UK boffins to breed syntho-blood from human embryos

As syntho-blood exec fakes terminal cancer

The next step in data security

Led by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, a team of British scientists is planning a three-year research project that seeks to fashion synthetic human blood from embryonic stem cells. It's a welcome announcement. The synthetic human blood biz needs a transfusion of its own.

Earlier this month, a former synthetic-blood executive admitted he pretended to have terminal cancer in an effort to sidestep a federal lawsuit over his company's Hemopure product, a blood substitute cooked up from cow hemoglobin.

As the BBC reports, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service is backing a three-year trial meant to develop "O negative" blood cells from embryos originally harvested for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.

"O negative" is the universal donor. The hope is that the new trial will produce an unlimited supply of infection-free blood for human transfusions. According to Edinburgh University Professor Marc Turner, also the director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, the trial will begin in the next few weeks.

A US outfit known as Advanced Cell Technology has already bred red blood cells from unused IVF embryos. But Turner and his fellow researches hope to do so on a much larger scale. "We should have proof of principle in the next few years, but a realistic treatment is probably five to 10 years away," he told the Beeb. "In principle, we could provide an unlimited supply of blood in this way."

Meanwhile, the AP reports, ex-synthetic-blood exec Howard Richman has admitted he posed as a cancer patient while he and his former company, Biopure, faced a lawsuit from the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The 2005 suit claimed that Biopure, Richman, and other company execs failed to tell investors that the US Food and Drug Administration had rejected clinical trials of its bovine-based blood substitute.

During a hearing in US District Court on March 11, the 57-year-old pleaded guilty to charges that he fooled his legal team into thinking he had Stage 3 colorectal cancer. At one point, Richman admitted, he impersonated a doctor in a phone call to one of his lawyers, claiming that spreading cancer meant he was unable to stand the stress of a lawsuit.

In October 2006, Richman's lawyers told the court that because of a cancer diagnosis, he stood a 15 per cent chance of survival. Then, after his lawyers claimed the cancer had spread, Judge Patti Saris agreed to postpone the trial final judgment - i.e., she all but ended the case.

Richman's lawyers eventually resigned, and in late 2007 a new lawyer told the court that the cancer bit was a put-on. Last summer, the ex-Biopure exec agreed to pay the SEC a $150,000 fine, and after this month's obstruction of justice guilty plea, he faces up to ten years in prison.

Shades then of Ernest Saunders, the former Guinness chief exec who was released from a five-year prison sentence after he was diagnosed with pre-senile dementia related to Alzheimer's disease. Saunders soon recovered from his symptoms, blaming them on a prescribed "cocktail of tranquilisers and sleeping tablets."

Or perhaps the analogy is less than precise. Saunders got out of prison. Richman is likely going in. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.