Hard Science

A protein found in whales might help make better synthetic blood

The Breakthrough

Researchers from Rice University are now working with myoglobin, a protein found in whale blood, to produce synthetic blood of better quality. The highly stable protein enables whales to store oxygen for a long time, reducing the need to come up for air. Prior to this, researchers have tried to produce synthetic blood with the right proteins since hemoglobin (oxygen carrier in blood) tends to deterioriate at rapid rates once separated from red blood cells. Due to this, they are now trying to see if myoglobin could do better without the presence of red blood cells.

The Implications

The use of myoglobin is merely a model system to see if the methodology works, and it will be used as a gateway to find a more stable type of hemoglobin. If found, then a synthetic blood that works just as well as real blood can benefit many in the future.

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