Don underlines importance of artificial blood

Dr Musa Muhibi, Associate Professor, Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Edo University, Iyamho, Edo State, says artificial blood has a component that could arrests bleeding, in lieu of platelets and plasma proteins that perform that function in human blood.

Muhibi, Secretary-General, Haematology and Blood Transfusion Scientists Society of Nigeria, said this in an interview on Friday in Abuja.

Artificial blood is a product made to act as a substitute for red blood cells. While true blood serves many different functions, artificial blood is designed for the sole purpose of transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body.

A team of scientists at Japan’s National Defense Medical College created artificial blood to be used on any patient, regardless of their blood type.

The team boasts that if it moves into human trials, the invention could prove extremely useful in cases when blood of a certain type is not available.

The Don, while speaking on the discovery, said that efforts to produce artificial blood started in the 1600s and reached its peak in 1883 with production of “Ringer’s solution,” now called `blood volume expander’.

Muhibi noted that the role of white blood cells in providing defence against “microbial invasion infection” seems not catered for in the most brands being paraded currently.

“This is not a problem, as long as the immune system of the patient remains functional and his/her body will respond appropriately to infection.

“Incompatibility, with respect to ‘antigen-antibody conflict’ as seen in allergenic transfusion, is not expected, because the blood-like materials have no antigens or antibodies to contemplate reactions against each other.

“Artificial blood are, therefore, universally administered without considering blood types of recipients.

“Advantages include safety from transfusion of transmissible infections because artificial blood has no pathogen, prolonged shelf life of up to a year, and non-cold-chain-dependent nature of the products with no refrigeration required.”

He said that the future of blood transfusion, where safety and availability in abundance would be sustained, depended largely on production and certification of artificial blood.

The don observed that cost of procurement may be a challenge at the initial stage but would come down as the market becomes more competitive.

Muhibi said that when the artificial blood is embraced, after certification by regulatory bodies, including the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), it will curtail blood-related deaths.

“Patronage of touts as commercial donors, avoidable death due to loss of blood, expenses on screening of donors for TTIs and coercion of relatives to replace blood units used on patients will all end progressively,” he said.

He, however, said that researchers would pay attention to translational research on production of artificial blood.

The blood consists of platelets and red blood cells that can be safely stored at room temperature for more than a year.

Platelets ensure that the blood can clot and heal over time, while red blood cells ensure that oxygen reached vital organs.

The Japan team has confirmed that it had successfully carried out clinical tests of the blood in rabbits and managed to save most of them from trauma-induced massive hemorrhage.

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