March 1, 2016

A researcher at the University of Texas at San Antonio has developed what could be a breakthrough in fighting hard-to-treat cancer and cancer in children.

Dr. Matthew Gdovin and his team found a way to get a wide range cancer cells to kill themselves using a combination of a chemical compound and light.

His method involves injecting the tumor with a chemical called nitrobenzaldehyde, allowing it to diffuse in the tumor, then aiming ultraviolet light flashes at it. The chemical’s reaction to light is to make the cells so acidic they kill themselves.

In his experiments on mice, up to 95 percent of the cancer cells died within two hours.

February 16, 2016

A team of researchers are looking into space for solutions to blood-related problems on Earth and beyond.

A Canadian project recently launched to the International Space Station will look at how the microgravity of space affects bone marrow, which produces fat and blood cells. Previous work has shown that prolonged periods in low gravity leads to increased fat accumulation in the bone marrow and reduced production of red and white blood cells.

Lower red blood cell counts in the bodies of astronauts produces a condition known as “space anemia,” which affects physical and mental functions. A similar accumulation of fat cells often occurs in patients who are on long-term bed rest, notes a news release from NASA.

February 10, 2016

Every day of the year, people need the blood component known as platelets.

Platelets are vital in the treatment of traumatic injuries, since their main function is stopping leaks in the bloodstream. Cancer patients need them, since their bodies often cannot produce enough platelets, and so do people undergoing certain types of surgery.

The problem is that platelets have a very short shelf life, just five days. That means they’re always in high demand, which is why the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) has launched a campaign to educate the public about platelets and encourage donations.

February 1, 2016

One of the most common misconceptions about the blood components donated at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center and other blood centers is that they go mainly to people who have been in accidents.

And while severe trauma often calls for multiple units of blood products, there are multiple other ways that medical professionals use them.

(As a side note, whole blood – what comes from donors in the typical collection – is rarely used in this country anymore. Donated whole blood is separated into components, mainly red cells, plasma and platelets, for focused therapeutic uses.)

February 1, 2016

A little-known federal agency filled with scientists and physicians has the task of making sure the blood supply in the United States is safe for transfusion.

The Office of Blood Research and Review is a part of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which is one of nine centers and offices within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The OBRR counts numerous researchers and doctors among its 200-plus employees. Its mission is to “ensure the safety, purity, potency, and effectiveness of blood and blood products used for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human disease, conditions, or injury.”