Red Blood Cells Get Artificial Upgrade

Feature – Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Red Blood Cells Get Artificial Upgrade

Wei Zhu, C. Jeffrey Brinker, Artificial RBCs, Artificial Red Blood Cells,

Researchers have created a synthetic version of red cells that could be created to do more than our garden variety red blood cells currently do, including as cargo as good meds and whatnots to deliver more targeted deliveries with less unintended casualties of the hosts themselves.

Excerpt from
Scientists Create Synthetic Red Blood Cells That Mimic Natural Ones, Plus Have New Abilities

Wei Zhu, C. Jeffrey Brinker and colleagues wanted to make artificial RBCs that had similar properties to natural ones, but that could also perform new jobs such as therapeutic drug delivery, magnetic targeting and toxin detection.

The researchers made the synthetic cells by first coating donated human RBCs with a thin layer of silica. They layered positively and negatively charged polymers over the silica-RBCs, and then etched away the silica, producing flexible replicas. Finally, the team coated the surface of the replicas with natural RBC membranes. The artificial cells were similar in size, shape, charge and surface proteins to natural cells, and they could squeeze through model capillaries without losing their shape. In mice, the synthetic RBCs lasted for more than 48 hours, with no observable toxicity. The researchers loaded the artificial cells with either hemoglobin, an anticancer drug, a toxin sensor or magnetic nanoparticles to demonstrate that they could carry cargoes. The team also showed that the new RBCs could act as decoys for a bacterial toxin. Future studies will explore the potential of the artificial cells in medical applications, such as cancer therapy and toxin biosensing, the researchers say.

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