Around 6 million People in America need blood transfusions each year, and medical centers are typically prepared. But while in a natural disaster, a terrorist strike, or a different emergency that sends a flood of sufferers into surgery, normal supplies of donated blood are usually not enough.
And in the developing community, particularly in war zones, blood shortages are regular. “There are many deaths which are possible to avoid —for instance, deaths happens due to postpartum hemorrhage which a blood substitute could assist alleviate,” stated Palmer Foster of the Cell Therapy Catapult innovation center in the UK. These shortages have developed a need for artificial blood.
What is Artificial Blood?
Artificial blood refers to alternative pharmaceutical products that can bring out similar functions of biologic, normal blood cells.
A perfect blood substitute would have a extensive shelf life, not like donated blood, which can be kept for only around 45days. It would safely and securely carry out all the functions of natural blood, such as changing lost fluid volume, transporting oxygen all over the body, dealing with infections, and clotting to seal off wounds. It needs to be easily produced in a lab, free of blood-borne diseases, and suitable with all blood types.
Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) Approach
Previously some organizations are searching into compounds known as perfluorocarbons (PFCs). Oxygen dissolves simply into PFCs. They’re absolutely free of disease and can be applied for individuals with any blood type. And they have the extra benifit of being a feasible option for individuals whose religions forbid blood transfusions. They are also shelf-stable, so medical centers could keep huge supplies of PFC-based blood substitutes on hand no issue where they are in the world.
On the other hand, PFCs do not transport oxygen almost as effectively as normal blood does. They also do not dissolve in blood, which means they’d have to be mixed with other substances before they could be combined with the blood in a individual’s body. Many organizations have designed PFC-based blood substitutes, but all have unsuccessful therefore far to get acceptance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some, for example, lead to blood vessels to contract, which can trigger tissues to turn out to be oxygen-starved. In the FDA’s viewpoint, the risks outweigh the advantages.
Stem Cell Approach
New innovations in stem cell engineering have created one more choice available: developing blood cells from scratch. To this end, the Wellcome Trust has provided £5 million to the Blood Pharma Consortium, a team lead by Professor Marc Turner at the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.
Cell Treatment Catapult is one of the venture collaborators. “Preliminary work revealed that it was feasible to produce red blood cells from bone marrow stem cells, but there were negative aspects related with their use—primarily the minimal number of times the stem cells could reproduce,” stated study lead Foster. Cells have a self-destruct series designed in to avoid them from turning into cancerous following too many replications.
Now the study team is making use of stimulated pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which can reproduce consistently, to develop RBCs. The iPSCs, like bone marrow, could also be applied to develop other essential blood like as white blood cells, to deal with infections, and blood platelets, to seal off injuries. Due to the fact they are developed in a lab, these red blood cells do not carry a possibility of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. And even though they have a blood type, the scientists can select to grow kind O blood, which can be provided to anyone. The artificial blood’s shelf life wouldn’t be more than that of donated blood, but much more could be developed at any time.
Best of all, these red blood cells seem to be completely healthy alternatives for the blood cells that our own body delivers. “We are basically producing red blood cells that are similar to ones you get in your body,” stated Jo Mountford of Glasgow University.
A Work in Progress
The consortium, however, still has to show that their product is risk-free to use prior to the FDA and other regulatory authorities accept it. They’re preparing to start their initial human safety study in 2016. At the same time, organizations like Cell Therapy Catapult are discovering ways to scale their manufacturing methods so that blood might be produced on an industrial scale.
“Scale-up of cell therapies is not a easy task,” stated Foster. “If all clinical studies are positive and regulatory acceptance obtained, then expertise designed so far will be used to industrial level scale-up. It’s unclear as yet how long this would take.”