WASHINGTON, October 31, 2013 — Romanian scientists announced this week that they had successfully tested a formula for artificial blood in mice. Researchers hope that artificial blood can put an end to blood supply shortages and prevent infections.
Led by Dr. Radu Silaghi-Dumitrescu at Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, doctors have created a formula for artificial blood using hemerythrin, a blood protein extracted from sea worms.
Previous attempts at creating artificial blood have failed, as scientists could not find a protein that would resist chemical and mechanical stress. In most cases the artificial blood would produce toxic byproducts that made it unsuitable for transfusion.
Dr. Silaghi-Dumitrescu’s formula, however, was injected into mice with encouraging results.
“Mice treated with this ‘Made in Cluj’ artificial blood did not experience any side effects, and this is precisely what we want,” Dr. Radu Silaghi-Dumitrescu told Softpedia.
The formula is the result of six years of research and testing by Dr. Silaghi-Dumitrescu’s team, building on research by Edinburgh and Bristol University’s Professor Marc Turner, according to The Daily Mail.
Compared to hemoglobin, the hemerythrin extracted from sea worms is not as easily destroyed when it is exposed to stress.
The artificial blood is meant to perform the oxygen-delivery tasks of real blood for 10 to 24 hours—until the body can replace blood lost from injury or surgery, according to Softpedia.
Researchers are planning to continue animal trials and introduce human medical trials in approximately two years to test whether the blood can be used safely on humans. “Tests on humans are a very delicate topic, we need some very serious licenses and they represent an enormous risk,” said Dr. Silaghi-Dumitrescu to The Independent Balkan News Agency.
Dr. Silaghi-Dumitrescu also alluded to the possibility of a form of “instant blood,” a mixture of salt and hemerythrin that can be transported easily and then mixed with water when needed.
In the U.S. every two seconds someone needs blood, and more than 41,000 donations are needed daily, according to the American Red Cross. A readily available, safe supply of artificial blood could put an end to blood shortages.