According to a new study, a new drug may lower the need for blood transfusions in surgical patients with acute anemia. The new drug, polymerized bovine hemoglobin (HBOC-201), is delivered intravenously and supplies oxygen to the blood of the recipient. The structure of the HBOC-201 is smaller and more mobile than blood cells, therefore allowing the HBOC-201 molecules to effectively distribute oxygen throughout the body.
The study, conducted by Jonathan S. Jahr, M.D., director of clinical research at the University of California, Los Angeles, compared 300 surgery patients who received HBOC-201 to 250 surgery patients who received blood transfusions. Results showed there were no significant problems associated with the patients who had received HBOC-201. However, HBOC-201 did cause yellow skin discoloration in some patients.
HBOC-201 is intended to reduce possible infectious agents found in blood that can harm recipients after a blood transfusion. It also does not have to be kept fresh through refrigeration as stored blood does, and it can last up to three years. Most amazing of all, say researchers, is HBOC-201 can be used by all blood types.
Dr. Jahr says, "It's not a matter of being more effective than human blood, or allogenic blood. HBOC-201 effectively provides an oxygen 'bridge' that helps keep acutely anemic patients stable during and after surgery. It can also fill an unmet medical need when compatible red blood cells are not readily available or when there is a need or preference to avoid blood transfusions."