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Frozen blood research

During active combat, the prompt and safe supply of blood products can save the lives of our Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. However, with short shelf lives of five days for platelets, six weeks for red blood cells and 12 months for fresh frozen plasma, it’s a real challenge to supply blood products to soldiers in difficult environments.

After over five years of research, The Blood Service’s Product Development and Storage team in Sydney, led by Dr Denese Marks, has developed a process for preparing deep-frozen blood components. Separate methods have been developed for freezing and storing red cells, plasma and platelets. This ground-breaking work extends the shelf life of blood components up to 10 years by adapting and developing blood freezing and thawing technologies. Not only will it provide the ADF with life-saving blood components in tough environments, in future it may also benefit communities in remote Australia.

“We’ve managed to translate our findings from the laboratory into the manufacturing arena and subsequently into the field with the ADF to help save the lives of those working on the front line,” said Professor Irving, Executive Director of Research and Development.

“This has been a real milestone. It’s the culmination of a great team effort over the past five years to what are now potential new products.”