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NHLBI funds research to improve safety of red blood cell transfusions
Date:6/21/2010

at optimize tissue oxygen delivery in transfusion recipients."

Blood breaks down the longer it is stored. Some red blood cells disassociate, releasing their hemoglobinthe iron-rich protein that carries oxygen. The free hemoglobin joins a growing collection of microparticles, white blood cell residues, and other byproducts that are contained in a fluid called the supernatant. Many of the red blood cells that stay intact develop membrane damage and lose their flexibility. Research is needed to determine whether such physical and biochemical changes adversely affect patients who receive stored blood.

In addition, researchers have yet to tease apart the effects of blood storage, blood components, the amount of blood transfused, genetics, and illness or injury on the patient's health after a transfusion. For instance, people with sickle cell disease, the blood disease thalassemia, and other chronic conditions that require frequent transfusions are at higher risk of transfusion complications.

"Until now, few projects have tried to distinguish complications that may result from the patient's underlying illness from those that may arise from the transfusions themselves," said Glynn.

The findings could open opportunities for personalized transfusions, where blood products could be manipulated based on a person's specific disease or characteristics. For example, if researchers discover that people with sickle cell disease suffer complications from a certain component of transfused blood, then those patients could be given red blood cell transfusions devoid of that component.

The eight grants are:

  • "Storage lesion in banked blood due to disruption of nitric oxide homeostasis," Mark Gladwin, M.D., University of Pittsburgh, and Daniel Kim-Shapiro, Ph.D., Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C. This team proposes that transfusion damage from stored blood can be traced to reduced levels of nitric oxi
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Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
NHLBI_news@nhlbi.nih.gov
301-496-4236
NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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