2nd-generation blood substitutes promise less toxicity

The first attempts at creating artificial blood were disastrous for the most part. Patients suffered high rates of heart attacks and damage to kidneys, pancreas, liver and so on. The applications for a successful substitute for human blood are endless; the path to creating one fraught with medical–and human–challenges.

In this article about 2nd generation blood substitutes, some pharma manufacturers call their products “hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers” instead of blood substitutes. That strikes me as good medical marketing, because it sounds a little less frightening–medically sound and very focused in its purpose. Whereas “blood substitute” conjures up visions of freaky humanlike robots with “blood” coursing through their plastic veins–or me in a hospital bed, gradually morphing into a pile of soulless mechanized body parts because I don’t have real blood anymore.

Okay, maybe I’m not representative of the population on that. But let’s face it; if the people who need to be involved aren’t ready to accept something (in a previous post we noted that salicylates like aspirin were known to lower blood glucose levels as early as 150 years ago–but nobody paid any attention), it’s not going to get spread around.

But yet as worrying as fake blood seems, if they succeed, think of all the Red Cross Centers and bloodmobiles we can put to more productive uses than sitting and waiting for more citizens to get the courage to give their blood. I’m glad they’re pursuing this research.