New research out of?Transylvanian city Cluj-Napoca, Romania?has shown an exciting preliminary success in synthetic blood use. The first clinical trials in rats show no reaction, the desired result. There are a lot of groups doing research into several different ideas about synthetic blood.
Synthetic blood research is a critical next step in medical research. Human to human blood transfusions, our current and best treatment for blood-loss and disease, have many potential problems from disease transmission to agglutination (clumping) and rejection. Synthetic blood would eliminate those problems and for some, eliminate the religious objections to life-saving treatment.
Synthetic blood used clinically in South Africa and Russia and one approved by the FDA for use in dogs are?hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOC). Hemoglobin inside our red blood cells is how our bodies (and all vertebrates) naturally oxygenate tissues. HBOC synthetic bloods use hemoglobin outside a cell and can cause kidney toxicity and other problems.
The research from Romania uses hemerythrin, the invertebrate ?version? of hemoglobin and does not have the renal toxicity that HBOCs do. Lacking red blood cells, the synthetic blood is the color of lymph (the fluid component of blood) but researchers say that red coloring can be added for familiarity.
In what may be the most clinically useful trait of the Transylvanian synthetic blood research, the ?Made in Cluj? could be transported and stored in a concentrated and dehydrated form, meaning lighter cheaper transport and instant blood, just add water.
Like most medical breakthroughs, synthetic blood research is slow, painstaking and has been going on for decades. From the first experimental blood transfusions in the late 17th?century through the discovery of blood types in the early 19th?century and the research leading to the first explorations in HBOCs in the 1930s, this small and exciting advancement has taken centuries of work and millions of researchers. With human trials of the Cluj-Napoca research beginning potentially within a year, and human trials of polymerized HBOCs already occurring, today’s elementary school children could see a shelf of synthetic blood with a number of different choices in the hospitals where their children will be born.
For a brief history of blood transfusions, watch SciShow’s Hank Green here.
Edited and published by CB