Space 'cat blood': Scientists on ISS a whisker away from major medical breakthrough

Space 'cat blood': Scientists on ISS a whisker away from major medical breakthrough
Japanese scientists hoping to breathe new life into healthcare services have successfully crystallized proteins in space that can be used in the making of artificial blood. The process has been inspired by cats.

The somewhat extraterrestrial solution was created on board the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory recently with the aim of replicating cat blood, reported Asahi Shimbun. The experimental module, which means ‘Hope’ in Japanese, contains a pressurized room where astronauts study space medicine, biology and material production.

The latest investigation appears to be the manufacturing of artificial blood, or at least proteins which can mimic the oxygen-carrying abilities of the vital fluid. “The animal medical front has struggled with a severe shortage of transfusion blood,” said professor Teruyuki Komatsu, of Chuo University in Tokyo. “Artificial blood will contribute to animal healthcare.”

Over the last number of years, Komatsu has been working to reverse trends in Japan’s blood transfusion service, which is reportedly increasingly being propped up by an aging population. Writing for Chuo University in 2015, professor Komatsu explained his use of the protein albumin to create an artificial oxygen carrier that can take on certain properties of blood.

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“The ideal state for medical institutions in the near future would be for artificial blood to always be kept available on shelves in a powder form or as a solution inside of plastic bags,” Komatsu said. “Artificial blood has various uses… serving as a substitute for red blood cells, it can be used as an oxygen-supply solution.”

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