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Artificial Red Blood Cells Have More Abilities than Natural Ones

Jun 18, 2020 by Ameer Helles

Artificial red blood cells have more properties than the originals

Scientists have created a synthetic red blood cell that not only equals the natural one but has a few added properties as well. Previously, most attempts at creating artificial red blood cells had one or a few, but not all of the natural characteristics of the original, but now in a cell dubbed ACS Nano, researchers have developed synthetic red blood cells with added abilities like being able to deliver therapeutic drugs, and toxin detection.

The primary function of red blood cells (RBCs) is to supply the entire body with fresh oxygen. These essential cells take oxygen from the lungs and transmit it to the tissues of the body. RBCs are also responsible for removing and transporting carbon dioxide from the body to the lungs to allow exhalation. In bone marrow, natural red blood cells develop and live for approximately 120 days before being removed from the bloodstream by the spleen.

Researchers created the artificial cells by first coating human RBCs with a thin layer of silica. Then the silica-RBCs were layered with positively and negatively charged polymers. Next, the silica was removed, which produced flexible cell clones, and lastly, the team coated the surface of the replicas with organic RBC membranes.

In a clinical trial with mice, the synthetic RBCs lasted more than 48 hours, with no detectable toxicity. Researchers say that future studies will explore the potential of artificial cells in medical applications, such as cancer therapy, and how they might act as decoys for a bacterial toxin.

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