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Lightning strikes four times for Palmer

Andre Palmer, a global leader in blood substitute research and engineering biomaterials for use in transfusion medicine and tissue engineering, has received $8.4 million in R01 funding from the NIH in under a year.Andre Palmer, a global leader in blood substitute research and engineering biomaterials for use in transfusion medicine and tissue engineering, has received $8.4 million in R01 funding from the NIH in under a year.CBE Professor and Chairman Andre Palmer was awarded a fourth four-year R01 from the National Institutes of Health. The new R01, which totals $2.8M, focuses on enginering PEGylated earthworm hemoglobin as a safe and efficacious red blood cell substitute for use in transfusion medicine.

Palmer's team includes co-PIs from the University of California San Diego and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

The latest R01 - the fourth received in under a year - brings Palmer's NIH R01 total to $8.4M. 

Palmer is also expecting a Department of Defense grant which recently received approval.

With a critical shortage of red blood cell (RBC) units looming in the future, Palmer is working to create safer, more commercially viable RBC substitutes that could tide patients over until they receive human blood transfusions.

RBC substitutes can be used universally by people with any blood type, and are stable at ambient temperatures up to several years, whereas human RBCs have to be discarded after 42 days of cold storage. In addition, RBC substitutes are free of new, unidentified pathogens that can unwittingly be passed on to patients, as happened before the AIDS, Zika and H1N1 viruses were discovered. 

Palmer’s lab is also developing artificial blood plasma and RBC storage solutions to help extend the shelf life of human blood beyond the 42-day FDA-mandated timeline, and working on a drug delivery system to target macrophages and monocytes (types of white blood cells) in blood.  

Previously, two four-year grants totaling $2.9 million were funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. One funds research focused on facilitating oxygen delivery to tissue-engineered constructs for applications in regenerative medicine, while the other is focused on developing a safe and efficacious RBC substitute for use in transfusion medicine. Palmer’s team includes co-PIs from the University of California-San Diego and Rutgers University.

Another NIH R01 was funded with $2.6 million over four years. The proposal he and fellow CBE faculty member and co-PI Jeff Chalmers submitted outlines production of a more uniform unit of packed RBCs for use in transfusion medicine, with a goal of processing blood so it’s safer for patients. The research will leverage the intrinsic magnetic properties of hemoglobin — the protein component of RBCs responsible for oxygen and carbon dioxide transport  — to facilitate the separation of RBCs from unwanted cell-free hemoglobin and hemoglobin containing micro particles. Case Western University’s Maciej Zborowski is also a co-PI.

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