By / November 15, 2023

Blood Plasma Substitute From Hemp Seeds on the Horizon

In terms of blood plasma, the demand is insatiable, and the supply is significantly insufficient. An estimated 100 million liters of plasma are lacking each year. Now, a new initiative to create blood plasma from hemp seeds could soon provide an organic, cost-effective alternative while solving many logistical and supply issues.

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The Revolutionary Blood Plasma for People Project

The groundbreaking initiative, known as the Plasma for People project, emerged in the Czech Republic. Founded in 2019, this biomedical startup aims to introduce an organic substitute for blood plasma by harnessing the potential of edestin, a protein derived from cannabis seeds.

This innovative approach promises not only a cost-effective alternative but also addresses critical issues related to the collection, storage, and distribution of natural plasma.

Edestin: The Cornerstone of the Project

The cornerstone of the Plasma for People project lies in the use of edestin, a protein found in cannabis seeds. This idea stems from extensive research by Czech scientists on the various applications of the cannabis plant.

Pavel Kubů, the medical development head for the project, reveals that edestin has been identified as a potential source to replace albumin, the main protein in blood. Edestin and albumin are surprisingly similar.

Compared to other proteins tested in the past, edestin is unique in its ability to support the regenerative functions of the human body. For instance, it was used in the 1950s in Czechoslovakia in various forms for treating tuberculosis, before the advent of antituberculosis drugs and vaccination.

Potential and Limitations of Edestin Solution

The edestin solution cannot entirely replace plasma; it contains about 98% of its components. However, if plasma is used to stabilize patients after surgery or to replenish blood volume in traumatic conditions as an expander, the bioplasma could become a substitute.

Advantages of Artificial Blood Plasma Based on Edestin

Artificial blood plasma based on edestin has numerous advantages over its traditional counterpart. Kubů highlights its resistance to contamination by prion diseases, HIV, or hepatitis viruses.

Furthermore, this substitute can be administered to patients who, for religious or ethical reasons, reject plasma from donors. Organic blood plasma also has a longer shelf life and does not require freezing, simplifying the logistical challenges associated with traditional plasma storage.

Overcoming Industry Challenges: Cost and Storage

One of the major challenges in the blood plasma industry is the high cost associated with both collection and storage. The artificial blood plasma based on edestin proposed by the Plasma for People project offers a cost-effective alternative. According to Kubů, this substitute can be produced about ten times cheaper than traditional methods and consumes a few cannabis seeds, about 1 kilo for 2 liters of blood plasma.

The organic plasma solution does not require specific storage conditions, as it can be transported as an inert powder vacuum-packed. This feature makes it particularly advantageous in emergencies, such as during massive disasters.

The Project’s Funding Phase

The project has now entered its funding phase. “We are currently seeking funds for the next phase of clinical trials and for the market authorization preparation process, which requires much more substantial funding,” explains Kubů to the Czech newspaper He adds, “We are also trying to have the necessary infrastructure for producing edestin, not only in medicinal quality, which we can already do but also so that our production can have larger capacities.”

“We have 1.5 million euros invested and about a year and a half ahead of us, which we want to dedicate to the clinical study, costing about four million euros. To our knowledge, there is no similar research anywhere in the world,” states Miroslav Mašata, director of Plasma For People.

The company found an investor in Germany who owns a patent for the extraction of edestin and a preclinical study. Plasma for People is targeting the blood plasma market and also the intravenous solutions market, with an estimated market size of 3 billion liters per year. They envision further research on other pathologies.

“Medicine, for example, already classifies Alzheimer’s disease among proteinopathies, and future research on edestin could be directed in this way. We are faced with the task of caring for a society that will have a large proportion of elderly people, and we must ensure long-term quality of life,” he adds.

(Featured image by National Cancer Institute via Unsplash)

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