Blood Substitute Approved in S. Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa-A new blood product that has yet to be approved in the US or Europe has been approved in South Africa.

Hemopure is made from cow hemoglobin and is the first human blood substitute. It can be kept for two years at room temperature and has been created from American cows that are seemingly disease-free. Although the manufacturing company, Biopure, says the product can be used as a substitute, doctors say it better to use Hemopure as a bridge until blood supplies are available for transfusion.

Once used, Hemopure loses its effectiveness in a day or two, requiring more transfusions. It also does not give the body platelets and plasma as donated blood does.

Biotechnology companies have been working for two decades to develop an oxygenating product. At least three other companies are in late stages of development of a similar product.

Biopure plans on filing an application for approval of Hemopure in the US and Europe this year. The company has already received approval for a different blood substitute for dogs.

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