For decades, experts have been searching for the perfect substitute for human blood. There had been many failed attempts. However, because of the continuous upswing of modern technology, the quest for artificial blood may soon end.
Researchers at the U.K.'s National Health Service have recently announced their goal this year to test whether blood made from stem cells will act the same way in the body as regular donated blood.
Despite that, experts said that if the trials would turn successful, real blood transfusion will still be needed in the future.
"It would be unfeasible to make blood in the lab for everyone," Ash Toye, a biochemist at the University of Bristol who is working on the NHS study said in an interview
. "But we could make blood for people with very rare blood types or who have reacted with donated blood and so are difficult to match."
On the other hand, Allan Doctor, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, has created an artificial red blood cell that picks up oxygen in the lungs and transports it throughout the body. He calls this prouduct, ErythroMer, which may come in the form of 'powdered' blood.
ErythroMer are cells made from purified human hemoglobin coated with a special synthetic polymer. Doctor said, the synthetic polymer plays the most important role in the success of this product.
The synthetic polymer coating would make releasing of oxygen in the body possible. It will as well respond to changes in blood pH.
The artificial cells are programmed to pick up oxygen in the lungs where pH is high, and let it go where in places with low oxygen, where pH is low.
ErythroMer is freeze dried, which makes it easy to store and transport. It can be kept at room temperature. Just mix it with water, and it's ready for immediate use.
The artificial blood is immune silent as well. Meaning, they can be used with any blood type.
"Since ErythroMer can be freeze-dried and stored for prolonged periods at ambient temperature, it may also be stockpiled in 'medical disaster depots' in anticipation of mass casualty incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing," Doctor told NBC