July 9th, 2012
Episode 176 of 559 episodes
Could creating "blood" in the laboratory make infections passed on through blood transfusions a thing of the past? Vivienne Parry investigates. The drive behind the quest for creating a blood substitute was originally from the US Military - during the Vietnam War a clean, reliable and portable alternative to donor blood would have helped to save many lives. Donated blood can only be kept for a limited time, needs refrigerating and has to be cross matched according to which ABO group people belong to. The "universal donor" - O negative blood - can be used on accident victims before a match is found. But it's in very short supply and often many units of blood are required. The history of creating blood has had a chequered past - with some products abandoned because of side effects and others proving too costly to produce. One analysis of clinical trials on blood substitutes in 2008 revealed a higher incidence of heart attacks in patients who'd been given them, compared with those who received human blood. Some scientists have tried using the pigment found in oxygen-carrying red blood cells - haemoglobin. This molecule is normally packed into the cells, so that it can "grab" oxygen breathed in by the lungs and release it in minute capillaries, providing the body with the oxygen needed to surivive. But "free" haemoglobin is toxic to the body - presenting researchers with a technical challenge. Another approach has been to grow human red blood cells from cells extracted from umbilical cords - known as blood pharming. But with the average blood transfusion containing 2.5 million million red blood cells the scale of production would have to be enormous. A special cocktail of growth factors coax these stem cells into becoming red blood cells just like those the body produces naturally. (Image: A syringe filled with blood)
Have you trembled ‘round the campfire as the ghost stories are told? Do tales of horrors wrought by nature and beyond strike fear in your soul? Is it best when you are afraid to turn out the light? Thrill to stories that strike at your deepest fears, as host Stephen Kilpatrick brings the best of horror fiction to your ears and your mind, read to you by the most chilling narrators that podcasting has to offer. <br /> <br /> Podcasting the finest in genre fiction, Tales to Terrify is where the depths of horror reveal the truths of good, evil, and the human spirit in the District of Wonders podcast network. Like all shows in the District of Wonders, Tales to Terrify is supported by a welcoming community of dedicated fans and contributors. Subscribe today, and begin your journey through the spine-tingling depths of storytelling.<br /> <br /> Everyone has a story in the District of Wonders. Come and find yours.