A microfluidic device can safely remove glycerol from thawed red blood cells in minutes, potentially making frozen blood more feasible for routine transfusions.
Glycerol protects cryopreserved cells from damage by disrupting the formation of ice crystals. But glycerol must be washed from blood cells before they can be used for transfusions. The existing washing protocol involves a slow series of centrifugations, which limits the utility of frozen blood supplies to transfusions for people with rare blood types, or patients whose own blood is banked prior to planned surgery.
Dialysis with decreasing saline concentrations gently cleanses thawed red blood cells of the toxic cryoprotectant glycerol. This microfluidic approach cuts the time for glycerol removal from an hour down to three minutes.
Next Generation: Precision Blood Rinsing
Image credits: Egelberg
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