A Korean research institute has succeeded in developing a blood preservative using an Antarctic microorganism for the first time in the world.
The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said on June 27 that the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) will sign a technology transfer agreement with Altero Biotech to commercialize the technology of producing a blood freezing preservative using new substances found in an Antarctic marine microorganism.
Dr. Lim Jung-han of the institute discovered an anti-freeze biopolymer, an inhibitor of ice growth, in Pseudoalteromonas sp. Strain CY01, a marine microorganism in the Ross Sea of Antarctica and succeeded in developing a blood freezing preservative.
Until now, it has been difficult to store and supply blood because the ice created during the freezing process destroys the red blood cells of the blood.
However, the newly developed preservative absorbs moisture from cells during freezing, suppressing ice growth and maintaining cell viability.
In addition, it preserves red blood cells better than glycerol, the previously used cryopreservation agent, allows blood to be transfused immediately after thawing and the remaining blood to be frozen and used later.
The ministry said the new preservative will stabilize supply of rare blood and prevent infections from blood transfusion.
KOPRI succeeded in preserving blood for six months using the cryopreservation agent, prolonging the blood storage period from 35 days to more than 5 times.
That will significantly reduce the blood waste rate and raise the domestic blood self-sufficiency rate, which was only 80% in 2014.
Altero Biotech expects to reach a market share of over 40% within the next 10 years in the global blood cryopreservation market, which is estimated to be 530 billion won by 2023.
An official of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said, "We will try to expand the opportunities to utilize polar bio-resources by supporting technology transfer and commercialization to create new industries and jobs."