Japanese researchers said they have developed artificial blood that can be transfused into patients regardless of their blood type and can vastly improve the chances for survival of seriously injured people.

The artificial blood created by a team of scientists primarily from the National Defense Medical College has proved effective in experiments on rabbits.

For possible applications on humans, the artificial blood gets around problems with identifying blood types in emergency situations and overcomes limits on storing real blood from donors.

A severe loss of blood platelets that stop bleeding and red blood cells that carry oxygen to body cells will lead to death.

Platelets can be stored for four days if shaken to prevent solidification, while red blood cells can be kept for 20 days at low temperatures.

A large amount of platelets and red blood cells from donors of all blood types must be secured for emergencies.

The team’s artificial blood consists of platelets and red blood cells. Each component is put in tiny bags known as liposome derived from the cell membrane to stop bleeding and transfer oxygen.

The artificial blood can be stored at normal temperatures for more than a year.

“It is difficult to stock a sufficient amount of blood for transfusions in such regions as remote islands,” said Manabu Kinoshita, an associate professor of immunology at the National Defense Medical College and a member of the team. “The artificial blood will be able to save the lives of people who otherwise could not be saved.”

When the artificial blood was tested on 10 rabbits suffering from serious blood loss, six of them survived, a ratio comparable to that among rabbits treated with real blood, according to the team.

No negative side effects, such as blood clotting, were reported, the researchers said.

The blood types of patients must be confirmed before they can receive transfusions, so emergency medical technicians and other health care workers are prohibited from transfusing blood in ambulances.

Since blood type is not an issue with the artificial blood, injured patients can be treated before they arrive at hospitals, resulting in a higher survival rate, the team said.

The team’s findings were published in the U.S. journal Transfusion (https://doi.org/10.1111/trf.15427).