Feeds

UK boffins to breed syntho-blood from human embryos

As syntho-blood exec fakes terminal cancer

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.