Research Highlights: Scientists Create Artificial Red Blood Cell

red bloodcells on white surface
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Scientists Create Artificial Red Blood Cell

  • A group of researchers from University of Mexico, South China University of Technology, and Sandia National Laboratories created an artificial red blood cells that imitates all the abilities of the natural cell.
  • The newly created artificial red blood cells has also been found to have new abilities.
  • Red blood cells take up oxygen in the alveolar capillaries and distribute it around the body.
  • Red blood cells are shaped like a disk and carries millions of hemoglobin which contains iron that binds with oxygen.
  • Red blood cells has a very high flexibility which gives them to the ability to squeeze through the very small capillaries and return back to their original shape.
  • Red blood cells also contain proteins that let them avoid being attacked by the immune system so they can be circulated through blood vessels for a long time.
  • The team wanted to create an artificial red blood cells that can have similar abilities to the natural cells.
  • The newly created cells can perform additional abilities which includes therapeutic drug delivery, magnetic targeting, and detection of toxins.
  • The artificial cells have size, shape, charge, and surface proteins similar to that of natural cells. They can also move through tiny capillaries without losing their shape.
  • The synthetic red blood cell was able to last for at least 48 hours in mice with no detectable toxicity.
  • The team also loaded the artificial cells with cargoes such as hemoglobin, anticancer drugs, toxin detector, and magnetic nano-particles.
  • The artificial cells can also act as a decoy for bacterial toxin.
  • The construction of the artificial cells are based on silica cell bioreplication approach.
  • Other processes for creating the artificial red blood cells include layer-by-layer polymer deposition, and precision silica etching, followed by red blood cell ghost membrane vesicle fusion.
  • The researchers will explore the medical applications of these artificial cells in the future. Cancer therapy and toxin biosensing are potential medical applications of the artificial red blood cells.


Guo, J., Agola, J. O., Serda, R., Franco, S., Lei, Q., Wang, L., Minster, J., Croissant, J. G., Butler, K. S., Zhu, W., & Brinker, C. J. (2020). Biomimetic Rebuilding of Multifunctional Red Blood Cells: Modular Design Using Functional Components. ACS nano14(7), 7847–7859.

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