Artificial blood developed by Polish researchers has potential to save countless lives

Originally Published in June 2017

NanoSanguis is a company that is developing the world’s first safe and effective red blood cell substitute at the Laboratory of Biomedical Engineering. The project was started by a team of Ph.D. candidates at the Warsaw University of Technology who were researching oxygen therapeutics. Considering the donor blood deficit will reach 3 million units of blood by 2030, NanoSanguis’ artificial blood supply could cover this shortage and save lives. With funding from investors, NanoSanguis launched into creating a substitute for human blood for use in transfusions. The company took part in the “Start-ups in the Palace” event and presented its project to the President of Poland Andrzej Duda. The firm was nominated for the 2016 Central European Startup Awards in the category “Best Social Impact Startup.”

The company was created by biotechnologist Agata Stefanek and Professor Tomasz Ciach at the Warsaw University of Technology. CEO Stefanek researched synthetic blood as part of her doctoral dissertation at WUT and her results were so good that she decided to continue her work by starting NanoSanguis. She specializes in tissue engineering, cell encapsulation and designing artificial organs. Professor Ciach has over 20 years of experience in the industry and 20 patents. A nanotechnology expert and professor of chemical and process engineering at WUT, he is the author of over 50 publications and is a consultant for numerous major medical and research companies. In 2015, NanoSanguis received investment funds from Start Venture Poland and Giza Polish Ventures, which helped them launch the company and continue working on the project.

NanoSanguis took part in the “Start-ups in the Palace” event and presented its project to the President of Poland Andrzej Duda.

NanoSanguis focuses on developing red blood cell substitutes, synthetic oxygen carriers, oxygen therapeutics and biotechnology. The aim of the project is to refine and commercialize the transportation of oxygen to all cells in the body—a task that is carried out by red blood cells. The company’s substitute for red blood cells is based on a synthetic substance that can carry and release oxygen.

This artificial oxygen carrier is not assigned to the blood group, making it versatile and can be administered to any patient. The blood is prepared under sterile conditions, which means it does not need to undergo testing for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Donor blood transfusions save countless lives, but 1.3 million pints of donated blood goes bad every year. Unlike natural blood, which has a 40-day shelf life, artificial blood can be stored for a long time—even for one year. Transfusions of artificial blood do not violate the principles of religions that are opposed to natural blood transfers.

The scientists at NanoSanguis emphasize that their synthetic blood is not intended to replace natural blood, but to help the rest of the blood until new cells are produced. In cases of major blood loss, the volume is typically made up using dextran solution or saline, but sometimes that is not enough to allow normal oxygen transport. That is why NanoSanguis’ artificial blood is so valuable. NanoSanguis’ innovation can also be used for the perfusion and transport of organs for transplant. Many transplants end with organ failure because of the non-physiological transport conditions; however, applying oxygen therapy to organ transport systems can help regenerate the organ before the transplant.