_78769729_p2420306-red_blood_cells,_sem-splA protein found in sugar beet could be used as a blood substitute to help tackle the shortage of blood, researchers in Sweden suggest.

Haemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen in blood and the team say plant and human versions are very similar.

They are looking at whether they can repackage the plant protein in a way that can be accepted by human tissue.

Scientists said this could be in three years. One UK expert said the study was “exciting” but a “long-term prospect”.

Blood transfusions can help many people in emergency situations who have lost a lot of blood and also those needing long-term treatments, such as for cancer and blood diseases.

Work by scientists at Lund University built upon an earlier study published in the journal Plant & Cell Physiology that found haemoglobin had an important role in plant development.

Sugar beet is grown commercially for sugar production.

Red blood cells Prof Bulow at Lund University in Sweden said he wanted to find a solution to the blood shortage.

Nelida Leiva at Lund University, who led the study, said the plant haemoglobin shared 50-60% similarity with the kind found in human blood but was more robust.

She said her work raised two possibilities – potentially adapting plant haemoglobin for use in humans and looking at using plants as a way of producing human haemoglobin.

Prof Leif Bulow at Lund University, who also worked on the study, said: “There is an enormous shortage of blood. We have to find some alternatives.”

The plant haemoglobin behaved similarly to a version found in the human brain and had a similar structure, he said.

The next step would be to develop the haemoglobin to see if it could be accepted by guinea pig and then human tissue, which could happen in three years.

For the full article: BBC News



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