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06 Dec 2011 1 Comments

Blood Donation – a thing of the past?

In 2005, a French research team at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, headed by Luc Douay, published results on blood created out of stem cells. Today, Douay is on the verge of human clinical trials of the same, have refined the technique in the intervening 6 years.

Not to be outdone by the French, the University of Essex in England has reported near success of a completely artificial blood substitute, developed from haemoglobin. This product if found feasible, can be injected into patients of any blood group!

So, how exactly is artificial blood created and what is its shelf life?

For instance, the French team extracted blood stem cells from a volunteer’s bone marrow and grew red blood cells in vitrio. Once cultured, the cells were injected back into the donor’s body. Observations revealed that the cells acted just like regular blood cells and carried oxygen around the body. They also deteriorated at the normal rate for blood cells.

The English team is working on packing haemoglobin into a synthetic cell-like structure, or using a chemical to hold the haemoglobin together so that it can be injected without the need for red blood cells.

These innovations can really change the mortality equation in war zones, disaster areas, remote areas, places without blood banks and countries with high rates of HIV infection. It can also be used for elective surgeries.

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