An anonymous reader shares a report: Scientists have been working on creating synthetic blood for years now. The hope is that this substance will have a longer shelf life than human blood — which can only be refrigerated for 42 days — and eventually can be packaged and stored for use in emergencies. If this works, thousands of lives could be saved every year. “People can’t show up fast enough and then the system can’t draw their blood fast enough to meet the need,” said Allan Doctor, a physician and researcher at the Washington University in St. Louis. Doctor’s lab has been working to create a blood substitute called ErythroMer, comprised of human hemoglobin, sourced from the red blood cells in expired blood at blood banks, and a synthetic polymer. This synthetic blood is actually a dehydrated powder, which would allow it to be stored for years, rather than weeks, and easily transported. Doctor envisions that it could eventually be packaged along with purified water so that doctors or EMTs could mix it when they needed to use it on a patient. ErythroMer is still in the planning stages. It has only been tested on animals, and Doctor predicts that the team is about three to five years from the first human trials. Following that, it will need FDA approval, and then healthcare workers will need to be trained to use it properly to avoid infections. “It’s important for us to have a bulletproof delivery system,” Doctor told me. He predicts that it will be available in six to 10 years if the trials are successful, and if they can make a cost-effective formula. There are different approaches to creating synthetic blood, which is technically just a way of transporting oxygen in the body. In 2013, a team in Romania announced that they were making it with albumin, a liver protein, and hemerythrin, a protein extracted from worms. In the UK, scientists with the National Health Service have been testing lab-grown red blood cells.
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