DARPA’s Synthetic Blood Could Be on Battlefields Soon

When I read the headline above my mouth kinda’ dropped open and I couldn’t believe it. Synthetic blood?! Well, the blood isn’t techinically “synthetic”, but created from the umbilical cords of type O babies. It turns out DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has been trying to create a universally accepted O-negative blood since 2008 to help soldiers in other countries. Depending on who you talk to blood is “fresh” anywhere from 14 to 42 days, but it can take at least two weeks for the blood of U.S. donated citizens to reach a solider on the ground in say, Iraq.

I know we’re all waiting for our hover cars to show up but I think it’s absolutely fascinating that we’re starting to grow our own blood. The only thing holding things up is that the process is quite expensive, about $5,000 per unit, plus it still needs to be approved by the FDA. Testing the synthetic blood on humans might start as early as 2013, so perhaps by 2020 blood shortages could be a thing of the past?

Found through PopSci & Wired


July 14, 2010