Most red blood cells (RBCs) are stored at 4 °C in a solution of saline, adenine, guanine, and mannitol for up to 42 days. RBCs can be cryopreserved at -80 °C for up to ten years in a 40% glycerol solution, which is added to reduce cell damage incurred during the thawing and freezing processes. However, glycerol is toxic and must be removed immediately upon thawing prior to transfusion. This deglycerolization process can take up to two hours and requires specialized equipment. Once thawed, the RBCs can only be kept for 24 hours at 4 °C before they must either be transfused or disposed of. Furthermore, the long-term storage of RBCs at 4 °C results in the formation of bioactive lipids, which have been correlated to post-transfusion complications. Our laboratory aims to synthesize non-toxic carbohydrate derivatives capable of inhibiting ice growth as alternatives to glycerol, thereby limiting the processing time required prior to the transfusion of thawed RBCs. This would ultimately improve the utility and availability of cryopreserved RBCs. Furthermore, we are interested in the supplementation of stored RBCs at 4 °C with these non-toxic derivatives in order to suppress the formation of bioactive lipids, resulting in fewer post-transfusion complications.
*Cofunded through a MITACs fellowship
National Training Program