Will donating blood soon be a thing of the past?
Scientists and medical professionals have started trials of synthetic blood on new patients with the hope of finding new materials to carry oxygen throughout the body. It’s not science fiction — it’s really happening.
By creating synthetic blood, hospitals could have a nearly limitless supply of life-saving blood for patients under their care. This could also be very beneficial for people with rare blood types because the artificial blood would not have the same markers that make the body recognize a blood cell as its own.
Jessie Eisenmann, who has been a labor and delivery nurse at Swedish Medical Center Ballard Campus for five years, said this could be valuable for the medical field. She said a lack of blood can be very stressful and dangerous for patients who are in need.
Eisenmann said the option of artificial blood would be helpful not just for people who are rapidly losing a lot of blood in an emergency situation, but for anyone in need of a blood transfusion because there is always some risk in receiving blood.
“If it ends up actually working out, it will be beneficial for a lot of people,” Eisenmann said.
A CNN article from March reported that British scientists, with the help of stem cells, were able to create a full blood bag of blood that was to be tested for its viability as a blood substitute. Although progress was slow, their work made the new tests possible and made synthetic blood closer to reality.
The search for the right material for synthetic blood has been in motion for years, but it is slow-moving because of the complexities of blood’s role in the body. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the synthetic blood being developed is really just another vehicle for oxygen, and not yet a true replacement for blood.
At this point, synthetic blood is unable to perform the other tasks of blood, such as clotting and carrying sugars and proteins through the bloodstream. But these new trials hope to have positive results that lead to the discovery of a safe and effective product to help relieve the current regional shortages of blood.
According to a Huffington Post article and video, these new tests come after years of research and tweaking the process of creating the blood and the chemical processes they use to do so.
Through the use of stems cells, scientists have been creating synthetic blood they hope will save lives and create an almost endless supply of blood. According to the Nature Communications research journal, researchers were able to create multiple generations of adult red blood cells through exposing adult bone marrow cells to various mediums and manipulating them. After generations of successful reproductions, the researchers concluded this blood replacement has great potential for clinical use.