troubled push to de

troubled push to develop artificial blood suffered another blow as a company that has led the charge announced it was shutting down. A receptionist still taking calls said the company couldn’t answer any questions. Northfield Labs has been in business since 1985 and working to develop its blood substitute PolyHeme Like the handful of other artificial blood products in development (and the only one on the market Hemopure available in South Africa) PolyHeme has its benefits: It has a much longer shelf life than real blood (at least a year versus just over a month) it can’t transmit disease and in theory there’s an unlimited supply But the effort to develop fake blood has been riddled with roadblocks and questions Most importantly is artificial blood safe and does it work as well as real blood On 30 April FDA said no turning down the company’s application to get PolyHeme on the market The agency’s concerns mirror those described last year in a meta-analysis of blood substitute trials In it critical care specialist Charles Natanson of the Clinical Center at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Maryland argued that blood substitutes no matter how they’re designed raise the risk of death by almost 30% and nearly triple the rate of heart attacks in the people who receive them in clinical trials mainly surgery and trauma patients Northfield and Biopure in Cambridge Massachusetts—the company thatmakes Hemopure the other blood substitute that’s in large clinical trials—vigorously attacked Natanson’s article saying its scientific design was flawed and its conclusions unreliable But faced with FDA’s decision Northfield it seems realized quickly that without its flagship product it would have to close its doors It’s unclear what this latest twist means for Biopure Northfield’s biggest competitor The company has clinical trials running in Europe and South Africa but has been struggling too financially and otherwise In January it reported that it was running out of money and needed a cash infusion to keep going; in December Biopure said that FDA refused to allow a trial at the US Naval Medical Research Center to go forward in part because of safety concerns

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