DARPA Awards $46 Million to Develop Artificial Whole Blood Substitute

February 02, 2023

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense, has awarded $46 million to fund the development of a field-deployable, shelf-stable whole blood equivalent that can be used to resuscitate trauma patients when donated blood products are not available.

DARPA’s Fieldable Solutions for Hemorrhage with bio-Artificial Resuscitation Products (FSHARP) program selected Allan Doctor, MD, a physician-scientist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) in Baltimore to lead the four-year research collaboration. The project will also include the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) and more than a dozen universities and biotech companies.

Doctor has assembled a consortium faculty members to work on the artificial oxygen carrier (red blood cell) component that he pioneered in earlier studies. The team will also collaborate on pharmacology, computational modeling, and machine learning to optimize the combined product.

During the project’s first phase, the research team plans to integrate multiple bio-artificial and synthetic components to deliver oxygen, stop bleeding and replace volume—key therapeutic functions of whole blood in resuscitation. In the second phase, investigators will evaluate the product’s efficacy and safety in increasingly complex and realistic trauma models. This phase will also include developing strategies to stabilize the product for months without cold storage and in extreme environments.

Throughout both phases, the team will also plan, develop and refine manufacturing methods to address real-world, pragmatic challenges of production, scaling, packaging and quality control.

Additional information on the FSHARP program is available in the broad agency announcement.