Pub medic Artificial blood
Is it worth all the hype? Thomas Mac Mahon and J Adrian Copplestone find out
In cases of massive haemorrhage, patients die rapidly from hypovolaemia and lack of tissue oxygenation. Management consists of controlling the leak, restoring blood volume, and improving oxygenation, but is sometimes difficult if the patient is lying on a battlefield or is trapped at the scene of a road traffic accident where blood transfusions are not readily available. What if the paramedics at the scene could use a blood substitute instead, saving time and lives? Current trials are investigating whether artificial blood can live up to this exciting promise.
Blood has a variety of functions in human physiology, including gas, nutrient, and hormone transport; waste removal; and delivery of immune and coagulation system components. Although eventually a synthetic product may be developed that can mimic all of these roles, current research into artificial blood is focused on the critical areas of oxygen delivery and blood volume replacement. As such, scientists are