Oxygen transport, flexibility, and long circulation times are only a couple of the properties presented our red blood cells. During their analysis in creating the best synthetic red blood cell, scientists have not managed to develop the perfect blend of these three characteristics. Most of the projects have managed to acquire one or a maximum of two of the key characteristics. Or, that is until now!
Scientists from ACS Nano have declared that they succeeded in creating the synthetic red blood cells that combine all of the innate cells’ abilities and a series of other properties. The purpose of red blood cells is to transport the oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. RCBs are shaped like a disk and contain thousands and thousands of molecules of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for binding oxygen.
The composition of RCBs includes certain flexibility, which allows them to access even the tiniest corners of one’s body. Additionally, their protein composition is of the utmost importance to prevent them from being attacked by the immune system. Therefore, Jeffrey Brinker and his researchers’ team have focused on creating similar properties and additional ones such as therapeutic drug delivery, as well as toxin detection and magnetic targeting.
The primary developing stage of this revolutionary product was created using donated human RCBs and silica. The combination of these two components resulted in a change of behavior, allowing the flexible replicas to form. The surface of these replicas has been coated with natural RBC membranes as the last step.
The final result is represented by synthetic blood cells, similar in size, charge and shape and flexibility to the natural ones. Their ability to carry cargoes is powered by hemoglobin and anticancer drug that has been injected to the cells.
Even though this study is far from being finished, it paves the way towards a new area of research.