Artificial Blood: From Sci-Fi to Reality

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Artificial blood, the stuff of vampire laden science fiction, is now becoming a reality.

Just this week, auspiciously announced on October 31st, led by Romanian scientist Dr. Radu Silaghi-Dumitrescu at Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Scientists have begun perfecting an artificial replacement for blood.

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Coincidentally, Dracula was from Romania. Just sayin…

The substance, made from water, salt and hemerythrin, a protein derived from samples retrieved from sea worms, has been successfully used in mice. This discovery, which one day could mean obliterating risk of infection and even make blood shortages a thing of the past, is still just beginning animal trials. Success with mice in the laboratories has prompted hope for a substitute for Universal O type blood, that which is in the highest demand due to the fact that most anyone can accept O type without a negative reaction.

This is not the first time a potential blood replacement has been created. Professor Marc Turner led researchers at the University of Edinbrough in 2009 to begin making an artificial blood replacement of their own using human stem cells. They are currently in the process of perfecting the reproduction of the product on a mass scale safely. As of yet, neither of the blood replacements have been tested on humans, though the news from Edinbrugh is a hope that tests on humans can begin in as little as two years.

The new, wormy version has the potential added benefit of becoming “instant” blood, a powdered form that becomes blood when water is added, which would mean transport to rural locations would be even easier, getting clean, universal blood to those most in need.

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According to the Red Cross, nearly 41,000 blood donations are needed on a daily basis, and every two seconds someone requires blood in the U.S alone. While over 7 million donations are taken yearly from developed nations, the need for clean blood in rural and underdeveloped nations is still a serious concern. Coupled with the increased demand as a result of natural and unnatural disasters, the need for clean and universal blood is dire.

Artificial blood may be the stuff of vampiric dreams, but it looks like science is well on its way to making it a life saving reality.

Images: Universal Studios, American Red Cross

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