One of my friends survived a terrible car accident last year but sadly, he lost his right leg. Now, he’s living a normal life with a prosthetic leg, happily married with two kids, working in one of the top corporate companies, going to international vacations and so on. My point here is that the advancement in science and technology has made our lives so much easier and better.
But the extent of the invention has not just stopped here. Miraculously, scientists have discovered synthetic blood (artificial blood) to aid those in need as in every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. The major source of blood in blood bank is donated blood and there’s no stable percentage of blood donated, which means most people die a terrible death just due to the fact that you or someone else didn’t donate their blood.
Hence, realizing this fact, after decades of failures in making an effective and stable blood substitute, the scientists have finally made the smashing revelation by discovering synthetic blood that could actually work on humans. But before I spill all the secrets about this amazing discovery, let’s first find out what exactly is a synthetic blood and how it’s made?
What is Synthetic Blood And How It’s Made?
Synthetic Blood or blood substitute or blood surrogate is a substance that is used to mimic the exact functions and properties of biological blood. The history of use of blood substitute goes back to the 16th century when scientists used several fluids like beer, urine, milk, animal blood, even opium and wine and as the blood substitute. The emergence of blood substitute first became inevitable during World Wars which laid the ground for the research in the field of blood substitutes. Following this, the discovery of several diseases like HIV and blood cancer also made scientists more concerned about the increasing demand for the blood transfusion and blood supply.
Now the scientists from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge have become successful to isolate and manipulate stem cells in labs to produce red blood cells. The first approved oxygen-carrying blood surrogate was:
- Perfluorocarbon Based Flusol DA-20– These were emulsion made by dispersing some small drops of PFCs in water. The perfluorochemicals are water-insoluble, hence they must be combined with other materials like lipids for them to mix with the bloodstream and work. One such lipid product was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but it has not proved successful, because the amount that can be administered is not enough to achieve a significant benefit. Improved versions of perfluorocarbon emulsions are being developed but have not yet reached the market.
- Hemoglobin-based RBCs– Haemoglobin-based products are called haemoglobin-based oxygen carriers HemAssist, a diaspirin cross-linked haemoglobin (DCLHb) was developed by Baxter Healthcare; it was the most widely studied of the hemoglobin-based blood substitutes, used in more than a dozen animal and clinical studies. It reached Phase III clinical trials, in which failed due to increased mortality in the trial arm, mostly due to severe vasoconstriction complications.
- Stem Cells– Stem cells are the biological cells that can divide and produce the same type of differentiated cells. The blood is made from the hematopoietic stem cells removed from the umbilical cord between the mother and fetus of humans after birth using a method called blood pharming. Pharming has been used in the past on animals and plants to create medical substances in large quantities.
Synthetic Blood: Human Trials
In 2017, about 20 human population were administered with small amounts of synthetic blood made from stem cells, as conducted by England’s National Health Service (NHS) in early safety trials. The success rate of the trail is yet to be concluded. The short-term goal of this project was to create red blood cells to treat specific conditions and illnesses, like sickle cell anemia. The major synthetic blood suppliers are Northfield Laboratories, BioPure, Sangart, HemoBioTech, Inc, Baxter International, FluorO2 Therapeutics, Alpha Therapeutic Corp and so on. In terms of region, the synthetic blood substitutes and blood products market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America is anticipated to hold the largest market share owing to advanced research and development in stem cell therapy.
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