Blood transfusions have been the usual treatment for replenishing red blood cells and oxygen delivery in patients who have suffered significant blood loss for decades. However, natural options that mimic transfusion benefits while avoiding concerns like as incompatibility difficulties and infections are emerging. We’ll look at several potential new alternatives and why they’re worth considering.
An Overview of Blood Transfusions
While animal-human blood exchanging studies have been going on for generations, the modern era of effective blood transfusions began in the early 1900s with the discovery of blood types and cross-matching. By the mid-century, blood banks, screening, and component separation had contributed to transfusions being standard hospital procedures for replenishing blood and controlling diseases.
Transfusions, on the other hand, offered hazards like as virus transmission, bacterial infection, and acute hemolytic reactions. The goal to prevent such difficulties has fueled interest in non-donor alternatives that use synthetic or purified molecules that approximate red blood cell oxygen transport without the attendant hazards.
Oxygen Carriers Based on Haemoglobin (HBOCs)
One promising alternative method use solutions of stabilised haemoglobin proteins derived from humans, cows, or genetically modified microbes. These, like natural haemoglobin, serve as oxygen carriers. Unlike regular haemoglobin, HBOCs remain stable when absent of red blood cells, evading renal filtration.
To prevent the toxicity difficulties that plagued earlier versions, researchers tried to optimise haemoglobin purity, molecular structure, and enclosure in protective shells. HBOCs currently show potential in swiftly restoring oxygenation without blood type limitations or storage requirements. More trials are being conducted. They could enhance or replace transfusions if proven safe and effective.
PFCs are perfluorocarbons.
PFCs are synthetic liquid chemicals capable of transporting large amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide without diluting blood components. They are biologically stable because they are inert. While promising, first-generation PFCs remained in the body for an inordinate amount of time. Because newer PFC formulations have less persistence, the chemical is exhaled after use.
PFCs may soon provide temporary oxygenation after surgery or life-threatening injuries with improved ventilation strategies to accelerate exhalation. PFCs, which are already approved for lung lavage treatments, may find widespread application as a replacement for transfusions due to their universal compatibility.
Stem Cell Treatments
Stem cell therapies open up a new path for producing patient-specific red blood cells without relying on donations. Researchers have successfully grown oxygen-carrying red blood cells using hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow. With further optimisation of cell lines and growth factors, this could soon become a renewable source of transfusion-grade red blood cells.
PBM stands for Patient Blood Management.
Finally, patient blood management (PBM) employs medications, equipment, and surgical procedures that enable planned surgeries to be performed with minimal transfusions. Tranexamic acid reduces bleeding, whereas erythropoietin stimulates red blood cell synthesis prior to surgery. Cell salvage systems recover and reinfuse blood that has been lost after surgery. Transfusions are only used as a last resort with PBM.
The Bottom Line
While blood transfusions save lives, natural alternatives to blood transfusion provide benefits such as universal use and infection risk reduction. As research advances, we are getting closer to approaches that provide transfusion advantages without the need for a donor. Until then, physicians can use PBM methods to prevent allogeneic transfusions as much as feasible. The future is more than just full blood.