Evaluation of Preserved Blood for Transfusion Therapy in Reduced Gravity

PI: Michael Menze, Jonathan Kopechek (Co-I), University of Louisville

A method has been developed to preserve red blood cells by dehydration for long-term storage (years) at ambient temperature before rehydrating with sterile water for transfusion therapy. It is anticipated that this process will reduce oxidative damage to the red blood cell membrane that occurs with other forms of storage while greatly increasing and simplifying the shelf life from the current standard practice of 42 days in refrigeration at 4°C. When anticipating the use of the dehydrated red blood cells during an exploration space mission, it must first be demonstrated that the red blood cells can be adequately rehydrated and regain acceptable viability and function given the altered fluid physics in a reduced gravity and microgravity environment. This flight demonstration consisting of two parabolic flight campaigns will evaluate this specific concern.

UofL researchers could help NASA use freeze-dried blood in space.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA06 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems
Problem Statement

The simple storage conditions and long shelf life resulting from this new technique would make the preserved red blood cells attractive for the treatment of trauma, radiation-induced anemia, and other medical conditions that could occur during an exploration space mission.

Technology Maturation

In the first flight campaign, small volumes of the dehydrated red blood cells will be rehydrated in storage vials during periods of Lunar, Martian, and 0-G. A second flight campaign will evaluate the rehydration of a standard unit of red blood cells (500 ml), assess uniformity of mixing, size and shape of the red blood cells and the viability and function of the red blood cells, and assess if there are any problems when trying to transfuse the red blood cells into an analog limb vein model.

Future Customers

The anticipated result of this project is the confirmation that the dehydrated red blood cells can be successfully rehydrated and transfused consistent with the performance requirements of a Lunar colony or an expedition to Mars, elevating the technology from TRL 4 to TRL 6.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    REDDI-F1-18 (Aug 2018)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 1 Parabolic

Development Team

Web Accessibility and Privacy Notices Curator: Alexander van Dijk Responsible NASA Official: Stephan Ord Last Update: November 16, 2018