We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies. Cookie Policy.

Features Partner Sites Information LinkXpress
Sign In
Advertise with Us

Download Mobile App


ATTENTION: Due to the COVID-19 PANDEMIC, many events are being rescheduled for a later date, converted into virtual venues, or altogether cancelled. Please check with the event organizer or website prior to planning for any forthcoming event.
16 Feb 2023 - 18 Feb 2023

Whales Could Hold the Answer for Synthetic Blood

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 07 Oct 2015
Print article
Image: Myoglobin (red) includes a pocket that is used to store heme (green) (Photo courtesy of Jeff Fitlow/Rice University).
Image: Myoglobin (red) includes a pocket that is used to store heme (green) (Photo courtesy of Jeff Fitlow/Rice University).
Ultra-stable proteins that allow deep-diving whales to remain active while holding their breath could help create lifesaving synthetic blood, claims a new study.

Researchers at Rice University (Rice, Houston, TX, USA) and the University of Washington (Seattle, USA) conducted a study comparing naturally occurring mammalian myoglobins (Mb) from humans, whales, and other deep-diving mammals. They found that all forms had a common characteristic shape that included a “heme pocket” (much like the pocket of a baseball glove) that traps and releases oxygen. The amount of fully active Mb expressed was directly and strongly dependent on the stability of the heme-free form of Mb, called apomyoglobin (apoMb).

But while the overall shape of Mb in different species is similar, including the shape of their heme pockets, subtle differences in their amino acid sequences causes the more stable myoglobins to better retain their shapes. This underlying stability, however, only becomes apparent when studying the heme-free, apoMb version of the protein. In the study, the researchers confirmed quantitatively that all deep diving mammals have apoMb up to 60 times more stable than human apoMb.

The researchers also systematically analyzed the genes and available information for all mammalian Mbs, including those from 250 deep-diving species, and found that those from aquatic mammals had large positive surface charges compared with those from land animals. They hypothesized that the charge differences allowed aquatic species to pack more Mb into their muscle cells than humans. Finally, the researchers confirmed that the stability of apoMb is directly correlated with expression levels; while very little human Mb is expressed, whales can express 10- to 20-fold higher amounts.

According to the researchers, the results could be used to engineer a strain of bacteria that could generate massive quantities of apoMb that could then be incorporated into synthetic blood for use in transfusions. Since hospitals and trauma specialists currently rely on donated whole blood, which is often in short supply and has a limited storage life, success could mean many more lives saved. The study was published in the September 2015 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

“Whales and other deep-diving marine mammals can ‘download’ oxygen directly into their skeletal muscles and stay active even when they are holding their breath,” said biochemist Prof. John Olson, PhD, of Rice University. “The reason whale meat is so dark is that it’s filled with myoglobin that is capable of holding oxygen. But when the myoglobin is newly made, it does not yet contain heme. We found that the stability of heme-free myoglobin is the key factor that allows cells to produce high amounts of myoglobin.”

Related Links:

Rice University
University of Washington

Platinum Supplier
STI Test
Vivalytic Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Array
Electric Suction Machine
Vital Signs Monitor
Aurus 20 A
Blood Warmer

Print article



view channel
Image: MyoVista Wavelet technology utilizes AI for early detection of heart disease (Photo courtesy of Heart Test Laboratories)

Novel ECG Technology Utilizes AI for Early Detection of Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 17.9 million deaths every year, or about 32% of all deaths worldwide. Every week, millions of electrocardiographs (ECGs) are performed across the world, making... Read more

Surgical Techniques

view channel
Image: The Vena BDAC provides a superior solution to distal navigation (Photo courtesy of Vena Medical)

Category-Defining Balloon Distal Access Catheter Allows Surgeons to Get Much Closer to Blood Clots

Thrombectomy is a minimally invasive procedure for removing a blood clot and has now become standard of care treatment for patients with an acute ischemic stroke (AIS) secondary to a Large Vessel Occlusion (LVO).... Read more

Health IT

view channel
Image: Using digital data can improve health outcomes (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Electronic Health Records May Be Key to Improving Patient Care, Study Finds

When a patient gets transferred from a hospital to a nearby specialist or rehabilitation facility, it is often difficult for personnel at the new facility to access the patient’s electronic health records... Read more

Point of Care

view channel
Image: Steripath improves the diagnostic accuracy and timeliness of sepsis test results (Photo courtesy of Magnolia)

All-in-One Device Reduces False-Positive Diagnostic Test Results for Bloodstream Infections

Blood cultures are considered the gold standard diagnostic test for the detection of blood stream infections, such as sepsis. However, positive blood culture results can be frequently wrong, and about... Read more


view channel
Image: The global patient positioning systems market is projected to reach USD 1.7 billion by 2027 (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Global Patient Positioning Systems Market Driven by Increasing Chronic Diseases

The global patient positioning systems market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 4% from USD 1.4 billion in 2022 to USD 1.7 billion by 2027, driven by increasing technological advancements in medical devices,... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2023 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.