A number of companies have attempted to develop alternatives to transfusions, generally based on modifications of the red cell oxygen transport protein hemoglobin. However, toxic side effects have been seen in a range of clinical trials. Therefore no product is currently licensed for use in the major healthcare markets of the world.

Intrinsic Toxicity

The “intrinsic toxicity” of the hemoglobin molecule is likely to be responsible for these side effects. Oxidative stress produces highly reactive “ferryl” intermediates at the heme iron and free radicals elsewhere in the protein.

Engineering a range of hemoglobin molecules that are less likely to induce oxidative damage.

At the University of Essex basic science funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has revealed that introducing specific amino acid residues (tyrosine) on the hemoglobin protein can detoxify the protein. This is achieved by enabling the body’s own defences - vitamin C and uric acid - to better reduce the potentially damaging oxidative intermediates.

Less Damage

The University of Essex has engineered a range of novel hemoglobin molecules that have additional tyrosine residues; consequently they are less likely to induce oxidative damage. Patents have been granted in the USA and Australia and are pending in other territories.


08/09/14 11:57

OBN Annual Awards: HaemO2 Shortlisted

OBN have announced the nominations for their prestigious Annual Awards. Presented on the Thursday 2 October 2014, in Oxford’s historic Ashmolean Museum, they will applaud the cream of UK bioscience, d...

14/05/14 09:45

BIotrinity 2014

First presentation of Haemo2 progress at Biotrinity on 12 May in London to an external audience by Mike Lewis.

09/05/14 16:08

BBSRC Pathfinder Award

BBSRC Super Follow On Fund Pathfinder Grant (£9K) “Creating an effective and non toxic blood substitute”

09/05/14 16:07

MRC funding award

MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (£1.2 million) ““Engineering a new generation of blood substitutes”

09/05/14 16:07

BBSRC Super Follow On Fund Award

BBSRC Super Follow On Fund Award  (£796K) ““Creating an effective and non toxic blood substitute”