Researchers at the University of Essex in the UK are in the process of developing an artificial blood substitute that would not need refrigeration, and can be used by any blood type.
Called Haem02, the artificial blood would be able to go unused for up to two years, without being refrigerated. This could create a stockpile for emergency situations, and even be used in developing countries where electricity isn't always easy to come by.
“It means we could overcome some of the inherent problems with transfusions as there would be no need for blood group typing and a longer shelf life means you are able to stockpile the supplies necessary for major disasters,” said project leader Professor Chris Cooper.
Researchers are currently in the process of trying to create a synthetic hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier (HBOC). HBOCs are commonly linked to an increase in death and heart attacks because haemoglobin can become toxic if it is not properly enclosed in red blood cells. This has posed the biggest challenge to the research team. The new technology uses the body's natural defenses to detoxify the hemoglobin.
More than $3 billion has been spent worldwide in the last 25 years to find a suitable solution to artificial blood. The team at the University of Essex might have finally found a solution.