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CWRU researchers developing life-saving blood substitute to help save thousands of lives

The project is still in the very beginning stages, but researchers are hopeful of its outcome.
Posted at 6:46 AM, Feb 10, 2023

CLEVELAND — For years, experts say they have been working to develop ground-breaking research to save people’s lives who need blood during critical circumstances.

Yet, they say they never had funding large enough to support their work.

Now, researchers say it’s finally happening thanks to more than $46 million in federal funds.

A potentially life-saving measure is happening right here in Cleveland.

What we have been trying to do for a long time, and we are continuing to do is to create a synthetic materials-based systems,” said Lead Researcher Anirban Sen Gupta.

Case Western Reserve University researchers say if their development is successful, it could save thousands of people’s lives who need blood during critical circumstances.

“This is something long-time coming, and I’m just elated to hear that you know something like this is to come,” said Tiffaney Davison.

Tiffaney Davison is a veteran, who can still recall moments where lives have been lost due to lack of blood supply.

“You know, not only do I hurt, my fellow soldiers and things like that, but families are impacted by this, so you know, yeah, we are sister and brother and, you know in the military; but these people have families that they may not make it home to because of that,” said Davison.

Now with this potential development underway, Davison says it would be a game changer.

“We're fine with putting our lives on the line. We don't have that problem. We knew that the minute we signed up. However, if you can spare my life because I sustained injury, that's even better,” said Davison.

“In these scenarios, the injuries are happening in very remote locations, and blood products currently are not in a framework where they can be extensively taken out to the patient,” said Sen Gupta.

He says their current efforts would reduce barriers relating to time and availability to help those soldiers and veterans like Davison, in addition to people who have been involved in situations like car accidents.

“This becomes sort of a lifesaving technology, bridging the gap between current blood product availability and the current blood product need,” said Sen Gupta.

Through a collaborative approach, researchers are looking at what synthetic materials based on the process of blood function could perform very similarly to real blood.

“That's what we are doing in this endeavor now, with the clotting functions coming from my lab, the oxygen transport functions coming from labs and companies in Maryland, and then the plasma functions of blood pressure and temperature and flow coming from a company in Pennsylvania,” said Sen Gupta.

Sen Gupta is hopeful he and his team can start testing in the next four to six years.

It would then require FDA approval, which he estimates could take several more years.

But overall, he and Davison say this is a step in the right direction.

“MetroHealth, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case School of Medicine, they all have trauma patients coming in. They all understand the need,” said Sen Gupta.

“We welcome those opportunities. But more importantly, I just thank the people who have who are working on this to save more lives,” Davison.

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