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Requirements for Delivery of "Artificial Blood" to the Military

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Although the Nations blood supply is safer than it has ever been, the potential to improve logistical efficiency in supplementation of oxygen carrying capacity, reduce or eliminate risk of disease transmission, and reduce cost has far reaching beneficial implications. The Panel believes that a safe, effective, and practical red cell substitute is feasible, and this difficult goal should be actively pursued until achieved. To do this most effectively, a National commitment is required. Greater understanding of basic mechanisms and toxicities is needed. Lack of this knowledge will likely preclude availability of an approved product in the near future. The needs of the military for a red cell substitute were considered in comparison to requirements for a product for civilian use. While the military may have greater concerns for logistical considerations e.g. weight, volume, storage temperature, these concerns are relative. When used for the same clinical indication, there are no unique military requirements for an ideal substitute that differ significantly from an ideal product for civilian use. Even when an acceptable substitute is available, a blood banking system will still be needed to supply other elements of whole blood required for specific purposes other than carrying oxygen. All technologies reviewed seek to approach the exquisite balance of structure and function found in the normal red cell. Hemoglobin free in the bloodstream outside the red cell carries oxygen, but it rapidly breaks down into its subunits and exerts many adverse effects. Some technologies are directed at overcoming problems associated with free hemoglobin. An example is chemical modification of human or non-human mostly bovine hemoglobin in an effort to retain the beneficial oxygen carrying properties of the free hemoglobin while minimizing deleterious effects.

Subject Categories:

  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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