HOUSTON, April 23, 2014 A biomedical engineer at the University of Houston (UH) is working to develop highly innovative technology to make blood transfusions safer. His work is supported by a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Blood transfusions save millions of lives every year. They are one of modern medicine's absolute necessities. Without them, for instance, routine surgeries would become life threatening. This doesn't mean transfusions are perfect, however. There's strong evidence that transfusions of red blood cells stored in a refrigerator for prolonged periods of time can be dangerous or even deadly for some patients.
This is because patients get more than just healthy, well-preserved red blood cells during a transfusion. They also get a number of potentially harmful materials. Materials beyond the needed red blood cells include the anticoagulant-preservative solution that keeps the blood cells alive during storage, as well as cells that have been irreparably damaged by processing the blood after donation and during storage. Additional materials include the remnants of burst cells, including free hemoglobin and microparticles that can contribute to inflammation and the formation of blood clots, as well as the byproducts of cellular metabolism, which is essentially cellular waste. The longer blood is in storage, the more these potentially harmful materials build up.
"Therapeutically, there's absolutely no reason to transfer any of this into the patient," said Sergey Shevkoplyas, associate professor of biomedical engineering with UH's Cullen College of Engineering. "The only thing you need to transfuse into the patient is well-preserved red blood cells. There's no point to giving you these other potentially toxic materials."
Shevkoplyas is working under an NIH Director's Transformative Research Award to develop a simple device to separate healthy, well-preserved red blood cells from al
|Contact: Lisa Merkl|
University of Houston