Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

We Can Replace Your Blood Cells With Synthetics

Illustration for article titled We Can Replace Your Blood Cells With Synthetics

A few years from now, your blood transfusion may contain synthetic blood cells (pictured) almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Except in one important way: These synth-cells can be stuffed with drugs for special delivery via your circulatory system.


A team of California researchers discovered that they could create blood cells by layering hemoglobin and other proteins on top of a microscopic, donut-shaped polymer mold. When the proteins had a stable structure, they removed the polymer mold and presto - they had a classic blood-cell shaped hollow vessel. The cells are also biodegradable, so you wouldn't have synth-cells roaming your body forever. Here are typical red blood cells, below.

Illustration for article titled We Can Replace Your Blood Cells With Synthetics

One synth-cell could carry oxygen through the blood just like a typical red blood cell, its unique shape allowing it to squeeze through tiny capillaries. But it could also carry drugs like anti-coagulant heparin, releasing it gradually. This could prove a boon for doctors trying to administer drugs to highly-targeted areas fed by the circulatory system. And of course it could prove a perfect system for hiding data or other sensitive substances in your bloodstream. One injection of synth-cells and you're carrying secret plans around in your blood that can't be detected by anyone.

via PNAS

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Dr Emilio Lizardo

This research has been going on for a decade or more. the biggest customer for synthetic blood is the military - it's invaluable on the battlefield.