23.10.03

Artificial Blood

Doctors in Sweden have successfully used artificial blood in patients for the first time. The blood is made from donated supplies of real blood, which normally has a shelf-life of 42 days, and turned into a powder, which can be stored for years. The powder can then be mixed into liquid form when needed, and used immediately regardless of the patient's blood type.

Dr Pierre LaFolie, chief physician at the Karolinska Hospital, said that if artificial blood were approved for use it could lead to dramatic changes in health care. He said: "If this really works all the way, then mankind will have taken a big step forward. This is like landing on the moon." Dr LaFolie said synthetic blood could save time after an accident - particularly as there is no need test a patient's blood type before administering a transfusion.

The synthetic blood has also been shown to transport oxygen through the body better than real blood, which can help limit damage to the body, for example during a heart attack. The synthetic blood has been developed by researchers in the US - the exact process for developing it has been kept secret - and it has been tested for the first time on eight patients at Karolinska Hospital.

Lead researcher Professor Bengt Fagrell said: "There has been no sign that the blood would be rejected.

"This is a molecule that the body's immune system gladly welcomes."

Professor Fagrell said the patients had been administered artificial blood made out of human red blood cells. However, he said red blood cells from any mammal could be used.

"We have chosen to use human blood for ethical reasons. But we could use blood within the entire mammal chain, such as cow blood."

Interesting? I think this is a major innovation in medical science and is a breakthrough, comparable to landing on the moon. However, I guess we have to wait and see what happens on the ethical side of it, I'm not sure I'd like to know I've got a goat's blood running through my viens..........

Read about this here and here.

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