En búsqueda de sustitutos de la sangre

WASHINGTON, DC – En la mayoría de los países desarrollados, los pacientes pueden estar tranquilos sabiendo que las transfusiones sanguíneas son seguras; el problema es que a veces, mantener un suministro constante de sangre de donantes no contaminada es difícil. ¿Habrá algún modo de asegurar de una vez y para siempre un suministro adecuado de sangre segura?

La sangre para transfusiones usada en la actualidad (que a menudo procede de donantes voluntarios) puede estar contaminada con VIH y otros agentes infecciosos. Además, necesita conservarse en frío y su vida útil es de 28 días. El temor a la contaminación (y el interés militar en contar con suministros más duraderos) han hecho que desde hace mucho tiempo la investigación de alternativas sintéticas sea una prioridad de la ciencia médica.

La idea de usar sustitutos de la sangre se propuso por primera vez en el siglo XVII y todavía atrae el interés de los investigadores. En la búsqueda de sustitutos de la sangre que sean duraderos, fáciles de transportar y de uso universal, ya se han desarrollado diversos productos con potencial de revolucionar la medicina transfusional y que podrían servir de sustitutos para la transfusión de sangre normal en situaciones extremas (por ejemplo, en el campo de batalla).

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