UK Daily Mail
By Niall Firth
Last updated at 3:59 AM on 10th July 2010
American scientists have developed 'artificial' blood that could soon be used to treat wounded soldiers in battle.
The genetically-engineered blood is created by taking cells from umbilical cords and using a machine to mimic the way bone marrow works to produce mass quantities of usable units of red blood cells.
Known as 'blood pharming' the programme was launched in 2008 by the Pentagon's experimental arm, Darpa, to create blood to treat soldiers in far-flung battlefields.
The firm Arteriocyte, which received $1.95 million for the project, has now sent off its first shipment of O-negative blood to the food and drugs watchdog in the
The blood is made by using hematopoietic cells taken from umbilical cords in a process called ‘pharming’ – using genetically engineered plants or animals to create mass quantities of useful substances.
One umbilical cord can be turned into around 20 units of usable blood. A wounded soldier in the field will require an average of six units during treatment. Making use of umbilical cords and umbilical cord blood to generate useable blood hardly could be called fake blood. It also insures that soldiers will receive untainted high quality blood.
Blood cells produced using this method are 'functionally indistinguishable from red blood cells in healthy circulation', the company claims.
‘We’re basically mimicking bone marrow in a lab environment,' Arteriocyte boss Don Brown told Wired magazine.
‘Our model works, but we need to extrapolate our production abilities to make scale.’
If approved it could revolutionise battlefields where a shortage of blood donors can hamper treatment of wounded soldiers.
The process of giving transfusions in war zones is also made more difficult because donated blood has to be transported long distance before it reaches the field hospitals where it is urgently needed.