Research in the Red
According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in America needs blood.
To improve the future of blood products, DoD, through the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), has established effective programs in the hopes of aiding both warfighters and civilians.
Approximately 44,000 blood donations are necessary each day to treat accident and burn victims, cancer patients, those having surgery, new mothers, premature babies, and many others. Donating blood is considered safe, and it takes less than an hour of time from the donor.
Once volunteers donate blood, it is processed to produce various blood products such as red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma, and cryoprecipitate, which is used to treat hemophilia.
Since the blood product to be used, as well as the blood type, depends on the individual patient’s need for blood replacement, maintaining a robust supply remains critical for meeting the needs of the general public. Having a limited shelf life, blood products must be replenished constantly.
Clearly it takes much more than a needle-stick to save a life.
USAMRMC research on improved blood products, under the broader Hemorrhage and Resuscitation Research and Development Program (HRRDP), supports six major strategic efforts, one of which is developing safer and more logistically supportable blood products for transfusion. The goals for the Improved Blood Products Strategic Effort are also to enhance the availability of blood products on the battlefield; improve the safety of those blood products; and examine selected issues related to the safety and efficacy of specific blood products.
Selected DoD product development and research in this area include: (1) dried plasma, to reduce logistical constraints associated with frozen plasma and to expand the availability of plasma in military operations; (2) cryopreserved platelets that can be stored frozen for years (DoD is also investigating other approaches to improving platelet shelf life); (3) an improved collection and storage system to increase battlefield shelf life and improve the metabolic quality of red blood cells; (4) a pathogen reduction system for whole blood; (5) clinical studies examining the effects of red cell storage age on outcomes following transfusion in critical patients; (6) evaluation of the use of frozen vs. liquid-stored red cells in a clinical trauma study; and (7) in vitro production of red blood cells that are universal donor and pathogen-free.
While these research efforts are intended primarily to help warfighters on the battlefield, the information gained will have applications in the civilian sector as well. These efforts, along with others, will help change the way blood products are collected, stored, processed, and ultimately transfused.
- REBECCA DUVE is the Assistant Portfolio Coordinator for Hemorrhage and Resuscitation Research at the Combat Casualty Care Research Program (CCCRP), U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC), Fort Detrick, MD. Duve holds a B.S. in clinical laboratory science, and an M.B.A. and an M.S. in management from the University of Maryland University College. She holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, and is certified as a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) with the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).
- DR. ANTHONY E. PUSATERI is the Coordinator for Hemorrhage and Resuscitation Research at USAMRMC’s CCCRP. He has focused on hemorrhage and resuscitation research for over 15 years. Pusateri has published work in more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific publications, primarily in the field of hemorrhage and resuscitation. He holds a B.S. in dairy science from the University of Illinois, an M.S. in reproductive physiology from Iowa State University, and a Ph.D. in physiology from Purdue University.