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Artificial blood developed for patients of any blood type, researchers say (asahi.com)
474 points by ausjke 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments

From what I understand (also heard about this in a podcast recently), they take existing blood of any type and are able to modify the RH and type. So blood still needs to be donated but it can be any Typs and RH as that is what can be modified to any type and RH now.

I wonder if you heard about https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/06/type-blood-converted... which is a different line of research?

Yeah that was it. Reviewing the initial article posted here, it's a different line of research then I was thinking. However it looks like the success rate is still only 60% (when testing on rabbits). The Wiley article on the grant (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/trf.15427) leaves clues that it's still derived from blood at some point and not entirely artificial.

Still very interesting to see that we are making progress towards creating fully artificial, non-type specific blood that anyone can use in a time of need.

The donored blood was only needed for the plasma base in their trial.

On page#2 under "Preparation of HbVs and H12-(ADP)-liposomes" am I reading it correctly that this "artificial" blood is still derived from blood?

Yeah, it sounds to me like it's 'artificial' in the same way that orange juice made from concentrate is artificial.

There is a substantial benefit though:

The artificial blood can be stored at normal temperatures for more than a year.

That seems like a huge improvement, especially in countries or areas without as much infrastructure or disaster scenarios.

Also combat medics, CASEVAC aircraft, and field hospitals. Not requiring refrigeration is a HUGE benefit during the "Golden Hour" of casualty care.

Its not really about artificial blood but some platelet replacement based on liposomes. Take a look at the full paper.

Yeah, that was my take away from the paper, which doesn't describe the blood as artificial, just some of the components. The HN title is a little misleading, which would better read: "Modified blood that can work for all types and has a shelf life up to a year"

Extremely freaking cool.

Any idea how this stuff is manufactured? Can it be produced cheaply enough to potentially replace the entire blood donation system?

It seems like they are able to take existing blood and modify the type so that even people that aren't universal blood donors can still have it used on anybody that needs it.

And, arguably more importantly, it has a shelf life of over a year at room temp, as opposed to weeks/days even when refrigerated.

That is quite an achievement!

Please read the paper carefully. They compared plasma without platelets (PPP, platelet poor plasma) combined with their crafted liposomes to platelet rich plasma (PRP). Therefore some donored plasma was needed, to have only a difference in the platelet concentraton. Their artificialy synthesized liposomes could then replace the platelets in the study.

Fig 3. A shows the major difference in bleeding time after administration of the different therapies.

>Platelets can be stored for four days if shaken to prevent solidification, while red blood cells can be kept for 20 days at low temperatures.

I didn't know that the shelf life of blood is that short. Does this mean it is possible that some portion of blood collected from "blood donation programs" goes waste? Because, in our country (Nepal), dozens of such programs are conducted by the Red Cross all around the country.

A doctor in charge of a blood extraction campaign explained to me that this is exactly the reason why there is a constant high demand of blood donors. Between hospitals there are exchanges daily of blood (you might have a certain blood type that another hospital needs right now), but a lot of blood does get wasted, because of the short times it has.

They also separate blood in different kinds (platelets I think it was the term) since it can be storaged for longer, but is not as useful as a full blood transfer.

Do you know if there is any kind of inventory management system that helps blood banks balance their supplies?

I don't know the answer to this, but if they do, they should share this information with the public so the public can be aware and more readily volunteer when needed.

They typically operate regionally.

> Does this mean it is possible that some portion of blood collected from "blood donation programs" goes waste?


For any system which regularly collects some resource and distributes it somewhere else, some amount of that resource goes to waste. It is impossible to absolutely eliminate this. Therefore, all resource-distribution systems expect some level of waste.

This reads like you're unsubtly telling OP "your question is dumb" while also not answering the real (intriguing, nuanced) underlying question.

I don't intend to tell OP that their question is dumb. But I am definitely completely missing the underlying question if there is one.

Does anyone know if this has the same "rejuvenating effects" that young blood has on older patients?

Could you link to something to provide context to your language? I've never heard of young blood -> older patient rejuvination, or how such clinical trials could be done safely. A pint of blood from a child is so much...

There was also a bit in Silicon Valley about how rich old entrepreneurs are hiring young 20 yr old 'blood boys' to transfuse them blood at will. I wonder how true it is.

It was supposedly based on real events.

Obvious vampire is obvious.

Probably not. The "rejuvenating effects" come from the body of young donors, so I don't think the artificial blood contains most of the components that human blood contains.

Citations for this subthread.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836258/ (Young Blood Rejuvenates Old Bodies: A Call for Reflection when Moving from Mice to Men)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770779/ (Young plasma reverses age‐dependent alterations in hepatic function through the restoration of autophagy) (Money quote: "Recent studies showing the therapeutic effect of young blood on aging‐associated deterioration of organs point to young blood as the solution for clinical problems related to old age.")

Thank you. I would love to read these sources when I'm able to!

Historically, there have been many efforts in the past to make artificial blood and IIRC they didn't turn out well for the patients.

It's a bit like the the body with vitamins. At first they thought vitamins were all you needed - then they started discovering micro-nutrients.

Blood is pretty complex - does this include just the highest-order bits of blood, or does it include everything that blood has?

If I'm bleeding out and the blood bank is dry I'm not going to be so picky. A few weeks later I'll have made my own to replace it.

Yeah that was my first thought. Doesn't need to be a full replacement, if side effects are minuscule and long term, this would be a superb buffer. Many hospitals are asking for donations. Well now they might ask for subventions :p

If you're bleeding out and compatible blood isn't immediately available, we already have several volume expanders that can be used.

Obviously, any blood is better then no blood. But will you survive that long on artificial blood if it doesn't contain all the right properties for your body?

I would have thought that getting blood into trauma patients in the field would be the main application for this?

Once back in a hospital setting they could switch to using real blood.

Paramedic here - two main areas of concern regarding blood in the prehospital/emergency setting -

1 - Volume - You need enough fluid in a closed system to maintain pressure to push that fluid.

2. Oxygen carrying capacity - Oxygen binds with red blood cells which then deliver it to every cell in your body.

Right now the prehospital setting can more or less manage #1, we have been for a century with Normal Saline.

There is some stuff circulating (pun intended) regarding fluids that can transport oxygen but it will be years before we can use it

Does #1 mean that a person with high blood pressure is more able to survive blood loss than a person with standard blood pressure?

Not a medic/doctor, but I would assume higher pressure would result in pushing blood out of your system faster. This probably offsets gains

The (immediate) goal isn't to have it so you go get drained and refilled once in a while, it's to have a longer lived substitute that is good enough to use.

So the question is whether it works in emergency situations, not whether it is as good as the real thing in all ways.

I think 'micronutrients' is pretty much vitamins and minerals. Because, that's all that there is?

It looks like we know about 36 different blood group systems, including the well-known ABO and Rh. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_blood_group_systems

Can a domain expert comment if this does away with the whole blood donation/testing/storage/logistics system we currently have?

Once in full production, potentially. But currently it's only been tested on rabbits. This could change the face of medicine if successful.

If significantly fewer people were encouraged to donate, I wonder what that would do to the pool of bone marrow donors.

At least in Australia you're encouraged to sign up for this as you donate, which makes it very easy for them to run the needed tests.

> This could change the face of medicine if successful.

Why? Is blood shortage a serious problem in medicine?

It's not just blood shortage in total numbers (which is a problem), but people who receive transfusions often develop additional antibodies, which makes it even harder for them to receive compatible blood in the future. There are actually millions of "varieties" of blood not just the 8 main types. It can be so hard to find a successful match that blood is sometimes shipped internationally. Emergency situations can be particularly difficult.


An “unlimited blood budget” might obviate hemodialysis in favour of just doing a “blood change”, which—depending on how you do it—may protect the liver and kidneys from things we can’t manage to pull out in a single hemodialysis pass.

It might also change the face of surgery. You know the phrase “he’s bleeding out!” Well, who cares? We have blood pressure to spare, now. We could go through a couple gallons during the surgery and it’d be fine. Just hook them up to the tank. Take your time clamping/microsuturing/cauterizing instead of rushing and making mistakes.

Uuuh no. Real blood unfortunately does more than transport oxygen. So "hook them up to the tank" isn't a solution, and isn't a problem only in a surgeon's mind.

I was talking about what this technique would do “if successful”—as in, if developed further. A full solution would likely include “generic” platelets and innate-immune cells into the mix, genetically-modified such that they don’t present graft-host disease; but would likely leave out adaptive-immune cells, leaving those to the marrow to reproduce.

(Or, helpfully, not; a “complete blood transplant”, done at the same time as a bone-marrow transplant, would serve as a much more immediate reinitialization of the body’s immune system in the face of autoimmune disease. Right now we try to do that with hemodialysis, but although we filter out the memory B- and T-cells themselves, we don’t manage to [immediately] filter out their chemosignals, so autoimmune response currently continues for a few days.)

What other functions of real blood do you have in mind, that this doesn't at least have the potential to do well for a short period of time in emergencies?

Well, what about immune function? It's pretty interesting to have one when and after you're bleeding out...

And before you tell me the potential is there, please realize that we currently have only a very partial understanding of how that works, and it would certainly require at least two decades of science to get right.

I was asking, not arguing.

Ok, sorry

In under-developed countries like Nepal, yes. Every year women from rural villages lose their lives because of excessive bleeding. No nearby health facility has a blood type segmentation facility; let alone a blood bank. If the government could provide the artificial blood to such rural villages, we could expect to reduce the maternal mortality rate of Nepal to a great extent.

So the core issue here is you can't know what type of blood to give? Why would artificial blood solve the problem of no nearby blood banks?

Per the article, natural blood has to be refrigerated and only lasts for a few weeks, while this stuff is good for over a year at room temp. You wouldn't need a blood bank. Every local clinic could keep a few bags in the supply closet.

If artificial blood has different storage requirements than the real thing, perhaps it'd be easier to have more and more remote blood banks?

Yes, blood shortages are a frequent occurrence, as it's dependent on the frequency and volume of volunteer donors.

If this is solution can be scaled up, you would negate the need for the entire blood donation and plasma collection (which is paid for, at least in the US) system overnight. It's a Big Deal.

It depends on how much it costs and how well it works (in the humans), neither of which is known at this point.

A cost competitive artificial blood that works as well as whole blood would have a big impact on the current system. An expensive replacement that wasn't as effective for treatment but had longer shelf life or something like that wouldn't have much impact.

How long until we don't need lungs/heart/digestion/etc. any more? With artificial blood it becomes much easier. I think we'll see the 'brain in a vat' in 20 years. This is a huge step towards immortality.

In the Year 2525.

Can’t wait to immortalize myself in a Futurama style head jar.

If I'm not mistaken, it sounds like this is to be used only in emergency situations almost as if it's some type of "filler" that can help keep your blood pressure up of you've lost an extreme amount of blood. It sounds like it may provide more benefits than that, but I say "filler" because it doesn't sound like you can replace all the blood in your body with this artificial blood.

So although there might be “waste”, emergency preparedness shouldn’t be forgotten about. It’s safer and better to have blood available when it’s needed than to be begging for it.

It must be a better filler than the ordinary, though because from what I remember being told, there already is a standard filler using in "bloodless surgeries" for people refusing blood transfusions; AFAIR a saline solution is good enough if all you need is to keep the blood pressure up.

You think this was made for human patients with any blood type?


This is True Blood™️.

Came here to say this. Ssssssssookie!

I miss that show. So much fun.

Me too! I was so disappointed that the spin off never happened.

awesome, thats a first step towards putting brain in a jar & super long lifespans. if we can make it with all the nutrients to sustain it then we can shed most of our meat-space parts and interface with neural AI fabric directly.

As an O-, this is good news.

True Blood?

one more step towards a greater future.

One where vampires come out of hiding? :P

Aka "beyond meat for vampires"

AMAZING news for vampires

Literally the premise of TrueBlood

Beyond Blood.

This is really interesting.

I wonder whether it truly is compatible with every single person, e.g. even RH-null etc?

I also wonder whether religious groups who don't accept blood would potentially accept this.

> I also wonder whether religious groups who don't accept blood would potentially accept this.

I understand they don’t accept blood from other people because they believe the blood is tightly related to the soul. So if the blood is 100% artificial I don’t think they would have a reason to not accept it, unless they find another reason, and I’m sure some obscure group will find a reason to not accept artificial blood either.

I had experience with one such group (Jehovah's Witnesses), so I can speak only about them, but yes, I believe they would happily accept artificial blood. The transfusion ban for JWs is related to their interpretation of Bible's verses about blood as a symbol, and verses banning consumption of blood. They already accept some blood-derived medication; generally, the smaller subcomponent of blood something is, the more acceptable they find it.

I understand this is a personal matter but I will not accept anything that I know of having been derived from blood.

I'm curious about the range of derivation from blood. For example, if I took a sample of your blood and made a product that was essentially cloning your blood, would that be the same?

Some people's spiritual rejections lie more in the "we're playing God we shouldn't do x" whereas what you are describing is something in regard to the sanctity of the blood.

Actually to further my understand, would you be permitted to receive blood that you yourself had donated and had been stored for your personal use in the advent of a medical emergency? Again, I'm not trying to pry or question the validity of your beliefs, just seeking to understand.

Sure, no worries. I am happy to answer questions.

This is a complex question. Some things are clear, some are less so. Basically in the Christian Greek scriptures I believe this is only mentioned once: https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/a...

Here is more info: https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/bible-about-...

Our feelings are that blood is sacred, and once it leaves the body it should return to the ground. Basically, blood is life, and life belongs to Jehovah.

Cloning blood would be wrong because its misusing something that has specific guidelines around its use. If you could clone the blood without like actually drawing blood from someone for the procedure, I guess that would be OK. This is weird and I am not totally sure.

We would not be OK with storing our own blood for future use, as this would be a kind of usage, and is contrary to the instructions to pour it out. And this would also be considered consumption/not abstaining.

As I think about this, though, it makes me think about using blood in the contexts of blood testing. Hmm.

Anyway I mean the scriptures give some instructions and we are doing our best to extrapolate to other situations. Things aren't always cut and dry. We just do our best to understand.

Thank you for taking the time to explain that - it seems the "abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality,from what is strangled, and from blood" is obviously a literal interpretation. "From what is strangled and from blood" I always took as profiting from war or suffering but I understand that the challenges of scripture is determine what is literal and what is metaphorical - there's also the concept of what is an "idol" and how is it polluting.

I appreciate you clarifying this. I think I understand a bit more, that there are some aspects of medical science construed as idolatrous, as perhaps glorifying an institution of man and not God.

Have you ever heard of any talk of a ceremony that would somehow reconcile these elements? Again I'm ignorant of JW doctrine and priests don't seem as prevalent, but I'm wondering if there could ever be room for some type of transfusion ceremony that allowed for this, in the precense of correct scripture and religious authority, that was "in the service to Jehovah." Sort of a "Deo volente" thing.

For us, I don't think idolatry factors into the decision re: blood. It is more like those are three things to abstain from.

To your other question, no, we do not have any sort of ceremony like that. But tbh avoiding blood transfusions is nbd nowadays. There are alternatives.

GP may be more up to date, but from I remember from previous decade, cloning blood would be no-go, and so your own blood that was stored outside of your body. Cardiopulmonary bypass was AFAIR considered OK, because it's considered to be just an extension of body's blood flow.

Things have not changed much. Cardiopulmonary bypass is considered OK, as well as other devices that might be considered as extensions. An individual might still choose to not accept such treatment.

Right. Didn't want to go into too much details here. From what I remember from a decade ago, the "full" blood and the four main fractions were strictly forbidden, and everything further down was left as a matter of individual's conscience.

At least in the case of one of those groups (Jehovah's Witnesses), it's based on a bit of text in the bible saying literally "abstain from blood". Transfusions are no good, including your own blood previously stored. Fractions and products are in a grey area though and left up to personal conscience.

> including your own blood previously stored

Wait, really?

Yeah. It's not a soul thing (since they don't believe it souls) or an ownership thing, it's that you're taking blood into your body. Fractions and such are considered a grey area since it's not technically "blood" aymore.

I am a JW. Personally, I wont accept anything that I know of having been derived from blood. That would include the artificial blood mentioned here as it is so-derived (AFAIKT it has red blood cells and platelets).

But, already existing blood volumizers are normally sufficient to save a person who suffered extreme blood loss; restoration of flow is more important than restoration of all the blood contents.

If it was 100% artificial, I would absolutely accept it, personally. But it would have to be not in any way derived from blood.

With that reasoning, they probably wouldn't want "soulless" blood either.

Excuse me, I only accept organic non-GMO virgin blood...

> I also wonder whether religious groups who don't accept blood would potentially accept this.

Religion is a disease on its own.

If it actively hinders your survival and well-being, what else would you classify it as? It belongs with depression, schizophrenia and all the other psychological disorders.

This is from someone from a religious country.

Most of those groups reject all parts of blood transfusion. This "artificial" blood only replaces the platelets and red blood cells so would still require plasma and white blood cells for a balanced breakfast.

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