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Novel Resuscitative Fluid Developed At University Of Pittsburgh Shows Promise In Animal Studies

PITTSBURGH, July 5, 2000 — Results of animal studies indicate a novel resuscitative fluid, HemoMax, developed by University of Pittsburgh researchers has potential to treat severe hemorrhage, such as that seen in the trauma and emergency medicine setting. The findings were presented July 1 at the 46th Annual Conference and Exposition of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs in New York City.

HemoMax is a plant-derived preparation that is intended to achieve maximal oxygen delivery to tissues deprived of a blood supply without the use of or minimal reliance on so-called oxygen carriers.

"Our goal is to develop an all-purpose blood substitute that combines the same high oxygen carrying and nutrient supplement capabilities of natural blood with superior fluid properties, so that it can easily slide into the far reaches of the capillary system," said HemoMax's lead researcher, Marina Kameneva, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Center for Artificial Organ Development.

"We like to think of it as a sort of STP oil. It makes the blood slippery, and thus improves its potential to perform and reach tissues that lack a blood supply," added Bartley P. Griffith, M.D., director of the McGowan Center, and Henry Bahnson professor of surgery and chief, division of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

In a rodent model of hemorrhagic shock, all of the animals that received HemoMax survived; the group of animals that did not receive it all died, Dr. Kameneva reported.

Half of the animals were treated with a plasma expander, which is commonly used in hospitals to stabilize a body in shock by maintaining blood volume. Half were treated with the same plasma expander containing a very small unit of HemoMax. No oxygen carrier was used in either group, and no other form of resuscitation or ventilation was attempted.

In addition to survival, Dr. Kameneva's team looked at hemodynamics -- how the blood circulates through the cardiovascular system. The control animals showed no sign of improvement and all suffered fatal drops in blood pressure and blood flow within one hour. In contrast, the animals treated with HemoMax were all hemodynamically stabilized within minutes and survived. Their tissues received adequate blood supply, Dr. Kameneva noted. While worldwide shortages of donor blood signify the need for an effective blood substitute, researchers caution that more studies are required in larger animals before tests of HemoMax can begin in humans.

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