Hello my name is Alyssa and I am a senior at Monona Grove High School. I am apart of U.S. Healthcare Systems and currently researching synthetic blood. I chose this topic because this is something that directly connects to Monona Grove. Once a year MG host a local blood drive in our gym. This is a way to collect blood for patients who need it, but with the new discovery, synthetic blood, there may not be a need or shortage anymore! I am attending UW-Stevens Point next year as a dance major but in a few years I plan on going into the medical field of some sort. The world of medicine is always changing a growing which makes life so much more interesting!
Synthetic Blood; Saving Lives
Guide: Alyssa Puccio
In the U.S. right now, 41,000 pints of blood are needed everyday. There is an estimated 38% of the population that is eligible to donate blood but only 10% actually do and in some cases this can be fatal. Blood is very crucial in hospitals. Blood is always needed for treatment of accident victims, cancer patients, hemophiliacs, and surgical patients, the list goes on. There is a constant search for blood donors, but what happens where there is not enough blood to go around? Doctors and researchers are looking for safe, alternative options for patients and their need for blood, on the hunt for a new medical miracle; synthetic blood.
Artificial or synthetic blood is made to act as a substitute for red blood cells. Since blood has so many uses and roles in the body, the sole purpose for synthetic blood is to transport carbon dioxide and oxygen throughout the body. For blood to be "made" it goes through many cycles, synthetic production, chemical isolation, or different biochemical technology.
For synthetic blood to be a useful aid in medicine, it must be safe and compatible within the body. The goal of this is to remove the label of "blood types" and disregard those ideas. Different blood types should not have to matter when blood is infused. In the lab they must remove disease-causing agents such as viruses and other microorganisms. While the artificial blood needs to be safe to be use it also must successfully transport oxygen through out the whole body and properly distribute where needed as well as be shelf-sustainable. Unlike blood that is donated, like what we use today, synthetic blood can be stored for over a year before it begins to break down.
So how is the "fake" blood actually made? Well, there are actually various ways to do it! For hemoglobin-based products it usually requiters isolation or synthesization of hemoglobin, modification of molecules, and then reconstruction of the formula. Bellow is process of hemoglobin synthesization.
Synthetic blood is a very new piece of research so it is almost too soon to look at emerging innovations. Currently there are companies working on eliminating certain limitations within blood substitutes. Most of hemoglobin products last no more than 30 hours in the body. This compares to transfusions of whole blood that last 34 days. The synthetic blood researches are attempting to create have the one sole purpose of oxygen transport so artificial blood does not mimic "regular" bloods ability to fight diseases and clot.
Within the idea of synthetic blood, there is still so much to figure out and discover within the ability of blood in the human body. Right now artificial blood is being created for only short-term replacements. In the future, there is hope that that new materials will be introduced to allow for that blood to be used in long-term situations and longer lasting products as well as products that perform other functions of blood.
|Positive Effects||Negative Effects|
|Medical||There won't be a dying need for blood, there should be enough for everyone||Time and money it take to produce synthetic blood. Is it efficient?|
|Professional||This could open up new spots for jobs and may increase pay for lab researchers||Synthetic blood could cost quite a bit of money to produce and may require additional training|
|Ethical||There is not a lot that goes into the ethics. It is a fair procedure.||Some may not agree with different procedures within the process especially if stem cells are included|
|Legal||It is very legal and is a safer option that donated blood from humans.||There could be possible legal problems if the process is not done correctly.|
This discovery will soon sky rocket because there is such a demand for blood. If it takes off, cost could increase but it would most likely be covered by most insurance companies.
|Because this is such a new discovery, it may or may not be covered by insurance.|
Purification and transfusion to patient (diagram)
So what is blood actually composed of? Check out this Crash Course video!
This year, they will begin the synthetic blood study. Watch this video to get further information on the study and where this will take us in the future!
Watch this video to see how synthetic blood is made and the transfusion process!
Because this is such a new study and there are not many trials completed right this moment, I think its very hard to predict the future for synthetic blood. Personally, I think this is an amazing idea and could have so much potential in medicine! I find it to crazy that blood can be made for you without it coming from a blood donor. This could be the answer to blood shortages in all of our hospitals. I know for me, I get many many emails from the Red Cross requesting me to donate blood, there is never enough. This could be revolutionary for patients in the hospitals in desperate need for blood input and transfusions. This can ultimately save lives.
This is a great way to prevent disease transfer in unsafe transfusions. The blood is "clean" and comes from its original source, not from a random donor. While this is such an amazing creation, what does this process cost? What is so great is that blood donations are relatively free and accessible. With the demanding fermentation of hemoglobin this can ultimately cost quite a bit of money. The next question this leads me to is how much time will this take. Patients in serious need of blood don't have time to wait for the product. Since the synthetic blood can be stored for over a year, maybe there could be ways to make it in bulk.
Synthetic blood has opened so many doors for medicine but have we researched this enough, further than the medical side of it? Artificial blood is such a baby in the world of research. There is so much more to learn.
Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin
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