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First batch of "pharmed" blood courses out of the lab


Back in 2008, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a "Blood Pharming" program to develop "an automated, fieldable cell culture and packaging system capable of producing transfusable amounts of universal donor RBCs using human progenitor cells as starting material." The agency awarded Arteriocyte, a Cleveland-based biotechnology firm, $1.95 million to develop the project.

Now, two years later, the firm is sending the first batch of "pharmed" blood to the Food and Drug Administration for testing. Wired's Danger Room reports:

The blood was produced using hematopoietic cells, derived from embryonic cord-blood units. Currently, it takes Arteriocyte scientists three days to turn a single umbilical cord unit into 20 units of RBC-packed blood. The average soldier needs six units during trauma treatment.

"We're basically mimicking bone marrow in a lab environment," company CEO Don Brown tells Danger Room. "Our model works, but we need to extrapolate our production abilities to make scale."

Human trials are not expected until 2013.

Photo by US Air Force

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