Perhaps ranking behind only bullets and water, blood is one of those things you really don't want to run out of on the battlefield. But better battlefield medicine -- as well as some of the more malicious combat techniques employed by insurgent guerrilla fighters -- mean more soldiers are surviving their injuries, and that puts military blood banks in a bind. But a DARPA program launched in 2008 is coming to fruition, potentially providing medics an endless stream of universally accepted O-negative blood through a process known as blood pharming.
Two years ago, DARPA set a goal of creating a self-contained, synthetic platform that can cultivate red blood cells that can stand up to the violent demands of the battlefield. Through the process of "pharming," or genetically engineering an organism to generate large quantities of a useful substance, the DoD's R&D arm was hoping to end blood shortages on the battlefield for good.
A company awarded nearly $2 million to develop this genetically engineered blood product has shipped off the first shipment to the FDA, hoping the regulators will approve it for use in trauma wards everywhere. The biotech company, Arteriocyte, can turn an umbilical cord into 20 units of blood in about three days at a cost of about $5,000 per unit. That's a bit steep, but if the FDA approves the blood product and the company is able to scale the production method, fake blood could be the real deal.
And here's why: most military blood is donated on the ground in the U.S., meaning it has to be shipped under special conditions to faraway war zones, adding expense and time lag to the process. Most blood is at least 21 days old when it reaches far-flung battlefields. At that point, it has a shelf-life of seven days before some medical experts say it is expired (as Danger Room points out, this is disputed; for instance, the Red Cross gives blood 42 days before tossing it). Some say blood starts to go bad in just 14 days, or a week before it lands in combat zones.
If Arteriocyte can get the cost down, pharmed blood could replace the donated stuff within five years, though the brass may push the FDA to fast-track it if necessary. Hopefully the coming years will see a reduced need for large quantities of battlefield blood, but it's good to know we could churn out a vast supply in a pinch.
War just needs to stop... period.
Thought it was like, truly synthetic, not made from umbilical cords, which sounds kind of weird. Either way, if it means more blood for those in need, why not!
just one more technology that is being produced for the military that will end up helping everyone else on the planet, Go DARPA!
This is great! Every major hospital in the US faces periodic blood shortages, so this technology could do a lot of good.
its about time
Yay! Stuff like this is perfect for getting people used to the idea of synthesizing organic material for use in humans ^.^ Lets up the anti and inject our troops with synthesized red blood cells with higher oxygen storage and release capabilities! Then give it to me. I'm not a professional athlete, I just want to go snorkeling for 45 minutes per dive.
@Cetus93: yeah... that's really easy to say. its not ever going to happen. we have to live in reality. I am no fan of war, especially the ones we fought in the last decade. or last 50 decades really. You have to be aware of the fact that war pushes the human race FORWARD. We would never have gone to the moon if it wasn't for war, albeit a cold war. This computer and the internet wouldn't be here if it wasn't for DARPA (or early forms of the agency). don't be so naive. This fake blood could help millions. It could help billions over the course of its existence. It would not have been created for who knows how long if its wanst for war.
Ironic that war produces a vast amount of useful tools and products.
I doubt bad guys will agree that war needs to stop. Might ask them. I feel sure Hitler would have stopped if only someone suggested to him that war needs to stop.
@ A_Rock HELL YA
Has no one else thought of the possible consequences of this? Think True Blood, now the vampires are going to come out of the coffin! :)
Hell yeah is right. For those of us who enjoy the idea of upgrading our bodies, this is awesome stuff :D
war is as neccesary as death, how can someone claim to be pro-environmental and anti-war at the same time?
either be pro-environment
end war = more people = bad for environment
how about end the hypocrisy
@A_Rock ...Woah really?
@furthur Yeah really! :D I'm a perfectly healthy and active 25 year old. I find my body is more like a toy or an avatar. I don't have the moral quandaries of thinking it's a temple or whatnot. I have no love affair with my body because I know it's going to try and kill me one day lol I have no problem messing with my brain provided I still get to think about what I want. I am my thoughts and actions. I want to do more of both and I'll do whatever I feel like to accomplish that. Everyone will have to follow suit whether they want to or not just to keep up! Hahaha.
The donor system in Europe is just better organized. Never a shortage of blood. But then, healthcare in most european countries is free and running it as a business is considered as unethical, anti-social and frankly calous.
@quatra I agree medical treatment shouldn't be business oriented. At the same time though, most medical advancements come from the US because of the profit possibilities. Is there a middle ground? I feel we could dramatically reduce the cost of health care by doing something about the exorbinate amount of suing that happens in our country. I'm not sure how to fix the problem... Maybe put a cap on moneys rendered to victims (or non-victims) and their families... there's got to be a way to do that and still be fair. What do you guys think?
Hitler did agree to war no more when Chamberlain asked him. But then he went and changed his mind, darn it!
The medical care you get when the system is full of people mainly or significantly concerned with prolonging their sinecures indefinitely is much worse than that you get from those who know they'll go broke if they're incompetent.
Think of profit as your wages for your contribution to the final product, set at a level the purchaser agrees is worth paying. The observed results of eliminating this is something like what the Soviet workers used to say: "The government pretends to pay us, and we pretend to work." Or vice versa. ;)
Pay 50%+ tax. Now collect your free health care. P.S. Don't forget to demand a surgeon to fix your hangnail!
This is going to put a big crimp in the budgets of a lot of winos.
@Brian H:Yeah we do that here in Canada.I think it's worth the money when you'll be on the edge of death.Isn't it cooler when you DONT wake up broken?Anyway,maybe it could resolve things with a half-private/half-public health care.