Red blood cells are the most transfused blood product in battlefield trauma care. They are, however, sometimes in limited supply in a battlefield environment. DARPA created its Blood Pharming program to potentially relieve this shortage by developing an automated culture and packaging system that would yield a fresh supply of transfusable red blood cells from readily available cell sources. If the program is successful, it will eliminate the existing drawbacks of laboratory grown red blood cells, including cost, production efficiency, and scalability.
In addition, modification of pharmed blood could also offer other benefits. The program is exploring novel technologies to tailor blood cells to offer value-added benefits to the recipient beyond replenishing lost blood. New approaches to modify the surface or interior of red blood cells to enable delivery of medical payloads, including vaccines, anti-toxins, diagnostics, antibodies to neutralize pathogens, and novel therapeutics is being pursued. Unmodified blood could be taken from a donor and modified to deliver a particular medical payload. This modified blood could then be grown outside of the body and returned to the donor to provide a desired clinical response.
Lt Col Daniel Wattendorfdaniel.firstname.lastname@example.org