Headlines: A Great Blood Story for Halloween

October 31, 2013 – A Transylvanian team of researchers led by Radu Silaghi-Dumetriscu, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Babes-Bolyai University, in Romania, has created what is being described as a recipe for artificial blood with promising preliminary results. For vampires it sounds like the perfect solution, a home grown supply that doesn’t require a human host. The blood contains a mix of water, salt, albumin and hemerythrin, a protein extracted from marine worms.

So far the mice seem to like the blood and have been described by the research team as “indifferent” to it. Hemerythrin is apparently the key, a protein derived from the blood of two marine invertebrates seen in the picture below. They are sipunculids seen on the left and brachiopods seen on the right. In these invertebrates the hemerythrin works like our hemoglobin to transfer and store oxygen, but it exhibits a lower stress-related reactivity than hemoglobin. This may be the reason it is working with mice as a blood substitute without causing rejection or other bad side effects. The big question is will it work on humans?

As a regular blood donor myself I have done research on this subject over the years and have seen many attempts fail. It will be interesting to see if this one turns out to be the real deal.

The researchers intend to do far more extensive testing on mice before considering human clinical trials. But how appropriate that this announcement comes out of Transylvania on the eve of Halloween.



Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...