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ZFBoxcar
21 Aug 06,, 00:39
Or maybe not. But freeze-dried blood could save a lot of lives and money

Aug. 20, 2006. 07:46 AM
OAKLAND ROSS
STAFF REPORTER

Here's a product whose time may well be about to come: freeze-dried blood.

If all goes well in the laboratory, and if some much-needed research funding materializes, Israeli soldiers in two years' time could be marching into battle with small pouches of their own powdered blood tucked in with their bandages and other emergency medical gear.

"It's the equivalent of Nescafé," says Bity Natan, program manager of the blood-preservation project at an Israeli biotechnology firm called Core Dynamics Israel. "It's the same principle."

Just add water — distilled is best — and the result is human blood perfectly matched to the recipient and ready for transfusions on or near the battlefield.

It sounds like science fiction, and the technology has yet to be perfected, but already the Israeli Defence Forces have expressed interest in the project and invested some money.

Natan says the U.S. military is taking a look at the idea, as well.

"It's very light because most of the water content is gone," she says of the product's potential advantages. "Each soldier can have it in his pack. It doesn't need cold temperatures."

There would be no compatibility or contamination problems, either, because each soldier who required a transfusion would be receiving his or her blood.
"Your own blood is better, of course," says Natan. "You don't have matching problems. Especially in chaotic situations, you don't always immediately have the right type. Some people have rare types."

Such problems would be solved forever, assuming the process being developed by Core Dynamics works, and assuming the firm receives an injection of additional funding.

"We still need more money," says Natan. "The Israeli Defence Forces have already shown their interest and given money, but they are limited in their resources."

Based in the Israeli town of Ness Ziona not far from Tel Aviv, Core Dynamics specializes in the preservation of human cells and tissues, using what it calls Multi Thermal Gradient technology.

According to the firm's literature, MTG "allows precise control over ice-crystal propagation during the freezing process, thus substantially reducing the damage caused to cells during freezing with conventional methods."
In other words, this is not quite the same as Nescafé.

Natan says freeze-dried blood could have applications far beyond the battlefield. "The market for this product is universal," she says. "This can change the blood-banking system."

Currently, Natan says, liquid blood can be stored for no longer than six weeks. The blood must remain refrigerated throughout this period and then it becomes unusable.

"The sooner you use it, the better," says Natan, "because it deteriorates under storage."

On the other hand, freeze-dried blood could be stored indefinitely and at room temperature, dramatically cutting costs and increasing the product's availability.

But additional research and testing must be done.

"Our estimate is, we need two years," says Natan, "with proper funding."

Regarding the science-fiction aspect of the notion, Natan draws a firm distinction between her field, known as cryobiology, and the quasi-science called cryonics, which envisions the freezing of entire human bodies so they might be revived in the future.

"Cryobiologists don't like cryonics," she says. "One cell type is difficult to freeze, not to mention whole organs."

Natan insists, however, that her project is feasible, that the technology is quite simple, and that the idea of instant human blood might soon seem no more remarkable than instant coffee does today.

"It's such a great project," she says. "Can you emphasize we need funding?"

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1155937810465&call_pageid=1105528093962&col=1105528093790

Bill
21 Aug 06,, 07:28
Fantastic idea.

Jay
21 Aug 06,, 19:28
how does it work, boil water, add the powder, cool it off and then use it for transfusion??

Straha
24 Aug 06,, 01:57
how does it work, boil water, add the powder, cool it off and then use it for transfusion??
I think so. Well that's what I get from the article...

FOG3
02 Sep 06,, 00:06
How did they manage to pull that off? I'd think drying out the blood would not be a truly reversible process, because the cells would die. Thus resulting in you getting a glorified vitamin shot. Did they find that red blood cells have some protective state like certain bacteria, they can take advantage of for storage?

Without that I can't see how this would work as advertised, but then biology isn't my area of expertise. They seem to be talking about a cooling process, but just how is that supposed to work with what they're talking about? Controlling ice propogation to better accomplish the freezing is nice and all but they're talking about powdered blood, not a longer life storage technique with full blown cooling system. Not to mention there's the problem of defrost, which I'm pretty sure hasn't been quite hammered out yet.

It could just be usual reporter missing the ball, but I think they're taking someone for a ride personally. It'd be a great and wonderful thing if they pulled it off, but I just can't see how A will allow B to really work.