Why hasn't an ideal blood substitute been developed?

Updated: Dec 11, 2018
  • Author: Sara J Grethlein, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Despite many years of research, the ideal blood substitute continues to elude researchers. Most of the initial attempts at synthesizing blood substitutes failed because of significant adverse effects. However, continued research has helped us better understand the physiology of red blood cells and the interactions of RBCs with their surrounding environment. This has helped in developing newer products that do not have significant vasoactive properties, as did the first-generation compounds.

Hopefully, as better blood substitutes are developed and enter routine clinical use, the need for blood transfusions in the operative and trauma settings will decrease. Large-scale production of blood substitutes would also help to meet the anticipated increase in demand for blood as the population ages and the blood donor pool diminishes.

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