A guy named Austin was wandering the halls of MIT's Stata Center this afternoon with a plasma bag. Its contents are a little darker and a little grayer than you'd expect blood to be - maybe the color of well-peppered Bloody Mary mix. It's also a little thinner. "We're having problems with the expression level of the hemoglobin,"
A guy named Austin was wandering the halls of MIT's Stata Center this afternoon with a plasma bag. Its contents are a little darker and a little grayer than you'd expect blood to be - maybe the color of well-peppered Bloody Mary mix. It's also a little thinner. "We're having problems with the expression level of the hemoglobin," Austin told me when I poked at the bag.
Austin Day is the brains behind the bactoblood project - bacterially produced hemoglobin - brought by the UC Berkeley team. I mentioned this project in a linkurl:previous post,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53825/ and I was excited to see the presentation. The concept is to engineer E coli to produce a red blood cell substitute, and let the bugs loose in the body to create a cheap and universal system for blood transfusions.
One hurdle, as one of the presenters explained dryly, is that "injecting E coli into the blood stream may cause a few problems," such as sepsis -- bacteria in the blood stream is just what the immune system is designed to fight. So they encased their E coli in a chassis, or bacterial coat, specially developed by a Berkeley bioengineer to evade detection by the immune system (he's using it to create tumor-killing bacteria).
They then built a controller out of two plasmids, which basically turns on protein expression, and then, to prevent cells from replicating in the blood stream, self-destructs. They say the stuff can also be freeze-dried (Austin had the vials of brown flake to prove it), giving it a perk that real blood doesn't have. linkurl:Adam Arkin,;http://genomics.lbl.gov/ the group's faculty advisor, summarized the project in three simple clauses: "Express a bunch of protein, eat your genome, kill yourself."
I asked Arkin, whether that project, or in his opinion, others at the contest, would carry on. He wasn't convinced they would -- he said that the group probably will finish putting all the biological parts together and seeing how the whole system works (they hadn't gotten to this stage by contest time), but beyond that was unlikely. "We know it won't be a blood substitute in round 1," he said, and developing the idea further would take serious time and money.
He pointed out some obvious problems with bactoblood's clinical applications. One issue is, how much bacteria would a person have to receive to get enough blood, and would that amount cause sepsis? Another, well publicized in the last couple weeks, is that blood that doesn't retain nitrous oxide does not do well -- and some solution to that problem would have to be engineered. "I think a lot of projects are about teasing an idea," Arkin said. "The first few steps to show you could probably do it."
November 29, 2007
Check out Biopure "artificial blood solution"\n\nhttp://www.biopure.com/shared/home.cfm?CDID=2&CPgID=52\n\n "hemopure & Okyglobin"\n\nThey have approval in S.Africa and before the UK\n"Biopure Submits Complete Response to U.K. Regulatory Body on Marketing Application for Hemopure(R) \n\nCAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Biopure Corporation (Nasdaq: BPUR) announced today that it has submitted a complete response to the provisional opinion letter issued by the United Kingdom Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) arising out of CHM's review of Biopure's application for marketing authorization for Hemopure(R) [hemoglobin glutamer - 250 (bovine)]. The indication requested in the response is for the treatment of acutely anemic adult orthopedic surgery patients under 80 years of age when blood is not readily available or not an option.\n\nAs stated in prior releases, the Company submitted its application to the U.K. authorities in July 2006. The company received a provisional opinion letter in December 2006, which contained the CHM's questions and requests for additional analyses. Biopure met with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the decision making body, in September 2007 to review its proposed responses to key questions and subsequently finalized the responses. Once an applicant responds to the Commission's questions it generally takes four to six months for the agency to make a final determination. If marketing authorization is granted, the company could seek registration of the product in other member states in the European Economic Area through the Mutual Recognition Procedure."\n \nRegards\nM.Freitas\n\n