Written by Staff Writer
08 Jul, 2015 | 6:28 pm
People involved in highway accidents frequently sustain injuries causing severe blood loss; but, due to a variety of obstacles such as blood compatibility and availability, or remote accident areas, life-saving blood transfusions are often impossible.
A team of biomedical engineers at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, however, are developing a potentially ground-breaking blood substitute that could be used in transfusions.
The artificial blood, a translucent white liquid, could be administered to people who have suffered blood loss through traffic accidents, child birth complications, and heart surgeries, among other situations.
For at least 20 years, biomedical engineer Juan Carlos Briceno has been working on the oxygen-carrying emulsion known as Bloodox.
“This is what would be called a temporary replacement with the capacity to transport oxygen in the blood, it would be an oxygen-carrying hemo-substitute and as it is temporary it would be for situations in which there is blood loss or the capacity to transport oxygen in a patient temporarily. The two immediate uses that we see are major surgeries, particularly cardiovascular surgery and blood loss due to trauma, what is called hemorrhagic shock,” explained Briceno.
In Colombia, approximately 21 people donate blood for every 1,000 residents, a low number considering that in other countries the average is double thatcloser to 42 donations per 1000 residents figure.
Aida Nubia Rodriguez, director of the Red Cross Blood Bank in Colombia, said that a lack of social awareness about the importance of donating blood, combined with high rates of violence create a constant blood shortage in the South American country.
“We always have a deficit [of blood], more bearing in mind that Colombia is considered a violent country so that means there is a higher consumption of the component [blood],” said Rodriguez.
The team’s blood substitute has now entered a stage where it can be tested on higher mammals.
In a recent test at the Children’s Heart Foundation in Bogota surgeons testes the liquid on an unusual patient – an anesthetized pig.
The doctors induced a 40 percent blood loss in the animal, creating a situation known as hemorrhagic shock.
The blood substitute was then administered to revive the pig while its vital signs were monitored on a screen throughout the process.
Ismael Rincon Franco, chief of anesthesiology at the Children’s Heart Foundation, explained the significance of developing synthetic blood.
“To be able to find a substance that is produced synthetically that can replace blood and blood transfusions would be an invaluable help for humankind. The incidence of trauma that we have in our country and in general in all industrialized or non-industrialized countries in the world, secondary or not to war, require a large number of blood transfusions. Blood transfusions are not innocuous, they all have complications, blood isn’t easy to find and as such a hemo-derivative or a hemo-substitute that can replace the role of blood would be of great use,” he said.
A blood substitute such as would have several advantages in that it could be created in abundance and would eliminate complications arising from blood donor compatibility and the risk of disease transmission from tainted blood.
It could also be of enormous use in the context of armed conflict since the artificial blood could be administered in the field without the need of any kind of prior examinations and with a much longer shelf-life than human blood.
The country’s 51-year-old conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions.
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