Advances in technology and medical know-how have allowed our scientists to create synthetic red blood cells that are more than capable of working on behalf of the real RBCs we have in our systems and maybe have more functions.
According to Science Alert, an international team of bioengineers created these artificial cells, which are thought of as Terminator red blood cells, by combining lab-grown polymers and biological materials.
But what makes these synthetic red blood cells better than the original?
According to the scientists, these artificial RBCs can function like how a normal red blood cell would, and more.
With its usual hemoglobin, they could squeeze through every nook and cranny of our vascular system, plus scientists could modify them to carry certain medications to specific locations, which could help the drug become more effective.
For example, health experts could use these cells to carry and deliver tumor-killing medications to an affected area.
Additionally, scientists think that these artificial red blood cells could carry biosensors and even attach them with tiny magnets that could ultimately allow them to guide these synthetic cells remotely.
However, perhaps the most significant help these artificial RBCs could do is to help meet the demand for blood supply in blood blanks and help patients who are suffering from blood loss due to extreme traumas and injuries.
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There are also more ambitious goals that some scientists are trying to achieve, such as creating sound-powered particles that could terminate cancerous tissues by carrying toxic species of highly reactive oxygen throughout the vascular system.
“Inspired by the above pioneering studies wherein synthetic constructs were created that achieved one or several key features of native RBCs, we endeavored to create a modular rebuilt RBC (RRBC) mimic that possessed the complete combined features of native RBCs,” the researchers wrote in their paper published in the journal ACS Nano.
This means that scientists would have to ensure that the bionic mimics of these alternatives are the right shape, flexibility, and size to allow them to go through the narrowest vessels.
Besides that, these artificial RBCs also have to remain intact for a long time to be useful while capable of carrying suitable oxygen levels.
So, how were these cyborg cells made?
Red blood cells are one of the few cells within the human body that lack a nucleus, making them easier to replicate and reconfigure than any other cells in the body. It also made them a target for bioengineers to boost.
According to the news outlet, there are already several artificial RBCs currently in progress.
Most scientists are looking for key materials in recreating these cells and are often on the lookout for hemoglobin either from human or animal donors, which they would then repackage into a benign particle that will avoid any immune responses from the system once it’s injected into the body.
The researchers have tested the bionic blood in laboratory mice, and so far, the experiments are successful as they were able to do their function without adverse effects.
However, more tests will be required before it can be used in humans in therapies.
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