Leticia Hosta-Rigau

Synthetic mimic of red blood cells for acute blood loss

mandag 21 jun 21


Leticia Hosta-Rigau
Gruppeleder, Lektor
DTU Sundhedsteknologi
45 25 81 55

About the project

The project is titled “A Modular Approach to Multifunctional Red Blood Cell Mimics” and it will run for 5 years with a budget of 14.9 MDKK.

The project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 101002060)

Read more about the ERC here.



A research team at DTU Health Tech, headed by Associate Professor Leticia Hosta-Rigau, will develop a fully synthetic version of red blood cells by mimicking their main functions.

Blood transfusions, which usually consist in the administration of isolated red blood cells (RBCs), are a well-established and indispensable clinical procedure employed in traumatic injuries (e.g., in accidents), pre-surgical conditions (e.g., transplants or trauma surgery) and for anemia treatment.

However, blood transfusions also have important limitations and risks. For example, there is a need for blood typing and matching before it can be transfused due to the RBCs membrane antigens. This results in fatal delays since blood transfusion is delayed until hospital admission where the typing and matching is conducted.

RBCs can only be stored for a maximum of 42 days in refrigerated conditions, which makes it impossible to create large stockpiles to be used when acute disasters occur (e.g., earthquakes, plane accidents, terrorist attacks). Furthermore, RBCs cannot be sterilized to remove infective agents. Although, currently, screening tests are used to screen out infective agents in donated blood, blood transfusions could spread new emerging pathogens.

Therefore, the creation of oxygen-carriers that can be prepared in sterile conditions, have long storage life and are compatible without typing and cross-matching, persist as a very important challenge in biomedicine.

We will replicate the main functions of biological red blood cells

“Within this project, we will create fully-synthetic mimics of RBCs. This RBC mimic, will replicate the three main functions of our biological RBCs, which are: Oxygen delivery, Carbon dioxide transport and Nitric oxide regulation. These three gases play a crucial role for tissue oxygenation”, Associate Professor Leticia Hosta-Rigau explains.

And she continues: “Furthermore, by making use of a synthetic approach, it will be possible to incorporate additional functions that are not present in our biological RBCs but that will provide pivotal support to patients suffering from acute blood loss.”

Associate Professor Leticia Hosta-Rigau has been awarded an ERC Consolidator grant, which will allow a group of three PhD students and three postdocs to fabricate the RBC mimics followed by an evaluation in three different in vivo models of acute blood loss: severe bleeding, hemorrhagic shock and trauma-induced coagulopathy.

(Photo caption: Associate Professor Leticia Hosta-Rigau. Photo by Jesper Scheel)

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