Current demands over the blood supply in developed and developing nations will compound over time. Red cell substitutes have a promising value proposition for transfusion services, because they hold the promise of increasing the availability of blood products and removing donor and contamination safety risks. In this article, the authors note that existing products suffer from critical shortcomings such as vasoactivity; they also point out that substitutes not based on human blood introduce potentially more complex safety hurdles. The authors discuss the attributes of an ideal blood substitute, and the mechanism and current status of perfluorocarbons; they also review the shortcomings of all oxygen therapeutic products in development today. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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