The Arctic Ocean is not devoid of life, despite its low temperatures. Many creatures, such as cod fish live in its waters. How is it possible? What allows the cod fish to survive in these waters without freezing solid? The answer is a protein in their bloodstream. This particular protein acts as an antifreeze.
British scientists have come up with the idea to use this information and find new ways of storing blood. The donated blood would be frozen for storage and then quickly prepared when it is needed for a transfusion.
At the moment, it is possible to store blood cryogenically. However, the procedure is much more complicated. Before the freezing occurs, an organic solvent must be added to the blood. The ration can be as high as 1:1. Moreover, this solvent must be removed from the blood once it is thawed. This procedure can last up to several days. Unfortunately, when we are talking about an emergency, we do not have days to spare. The blood must be used in the transfusion immediately. As a result, a procedure that could defreeze the blood and make it viable in a shorter period of time is a must for the future of cryogenics.
In order to get rid of this delay, a team of researchers from the University of Warwick created a polymer, called polyvinyl alcohol. This polymer is derived from wood glue. This new invention works in the same way as the protein from the blood of the cod fish. Like the solvent, it prevents the formation of ice crystals as the blood thaws. However, the polymer doesn’t have to be removed. As a result the blood could be used immediately.
If the research is successful, the result could lead to an increased ease in storing frozen blood and using it in transfusions. What do you think of this research inspired by the cod fish?