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Synthetic Blood

February 9, 2010

Researchers have created synthetic red blood cells in the lab.


Synthetic blood cells. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Pills and injections are the most common forms of drug delivery, but they don’t work for every drug. One alternative is to use hard spheres that circulate in the blood, delivering drugs gradually. But the bloodstream eventually removes the foreign objects. Samir Mitragotri, a chemical engineer at UC Santa Barbara and his team are improving on the hard sphere by making it more like a real red blood cell.

SAMIR MITRAGOTRI (University of California, Santa Barbara):
When we expose it to a solvent it collapses to form a red blood cell-like shape. Then we coat these particles with proteins and we take out the underlying polymer template and what you’re left with is a soft protein shell, which has the right size, shape, and mechanical properties compared to red blood cells.

He says the particles could eventually be used to deliver a variety of drugs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.