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A major role of blood is to transport oxygen to our organs and release it to them. When we lose a lot of blood, often through trauma, transfusions with donated blood help restore this vital function and keep our vital organs functioning.

However, donated blood stocks are finite and units need to be kept under strict temperature control. In some scenarios, such as remote accident sites or war zones where healthcare systems have collapsed, fresh blood is often unavailable.

One of the challenges to making artificial blood is that while it is relatively simple to get oxygen to stick to the artificial blood molecules in the lungs, it is difficult to release the oxygen when it reaches the organs.

The American Society of Hematology Conference in San Diego heard this week about a new artificial blood product, Erythromer, that has shown promising results in early tests. The product is like freeze-dried blood that can be transported to hard-to-reach areas and reconstituted with water when needed.

The product is undergoing trials funded by the United States’ National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Watch this space!