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Dec 08, 2016 10:14 AM EST

Artificial Blood In Powder Form Can Be Used to Save Lives in the Future

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Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis are working to develop artificial blood stored as powder to be used in emergency medicine in the future and provide trauma victims a bigger chance of survival.

The researchers were able to create an artificial red blood cell that's capable of picking up oxygen from the lungs and deliver it to the other parts of the body.

According to Dr. Allan Doctor, the senior researcher and critical care specialist at Washington University School of Medicine, the artificial blood can be freeze-dried so that it can come in handy in cases of emergencies.

"It's a dried powder that looks like paprika, basically," Doctor said. "It can be stored in an IV plastic bag that a medic would carry, either in their ambulance or in a backpack, for a year or more. When they need to use it, they spike the bag with sterile water, mix it, and it's ready to inject right then and there."

The artificial blood called ErythroMer is about one fifth size of a normal red blood cell and is made from purified human hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the component in a red blood cell that enables it to carry oxygen throughout the body.

The researchers are looking at its use for trauma patients involved in accidents. They said that it may not be able to replace human blood but it could buy the patients some time while waiting for a blood transfusion.

"ErythroMer would be a blood substitute that a medic can carry in his or her pack and literally take it out, add water, and inject it," he said.

"There are currently no simple, practical means to bring transfusion to most trauma victims outside of hospitals.

"Delays in resuscitation significantly impact outcomes; it is our goal to push timely, effective care to field settings."

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