London: Scientists have created an artificial blood substitute with a protein extracted from marine worms, rather than based on synthetic hemoglobins.
Researchers led by Professor Radu Silanghi-Dumitrescu, from Babes-Bolyai University, have been testing the blood substitute in both mice and in cultured cells.
Initial findings suggest that many of the adverse effects normally associated with either perfluorocarbon (PFC) or hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier (HBOC) substitutes can be eliminated, or at least minimised by using hemerythrin protein.
Human blood only has a shelf life of a few weeks. It also needs to be matched to the recipient's blood type, and while the risks of disease transmission can be minimised by testing, dangers still present if the donor has been recently infected.
These facts of life have lead to huge efforts to build a better blood substitute, 'Medical Xpress' reported.
The new tipple from researchers, which instead uses the hemerythrin, has much lower free-radical stress related reactivity than hemoglobin.
The researchers looked at these effects both in human leukocytes and human umbilical cells.
When compared with standard glutaraldehyde-polymerised bovine hemoglobin, their new substitute resulted in much healthier cultures.
Researchers said their goal is not to develop a permanent replacement solution, but rather something that could be used to bridge a critical situation for the few hours or days it takes for the body's natural mercenaries to take over.
Hemerythrin itself, despite its name, is not actually a heme molecule in the strict sense. It is virtually colourless when deoxygenated, but when bound with oxygen it turns a violet-pink.
Hemerythrin has many other unique properties which still need to be explored. Among its positive features, for example, are a much reduced affinity for carbon monoxide.