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Blood transfusion between animals - one of science's oldest iconic papers now online

30 November 2009

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Category: Communications & media

royal–society–blood–transfusion.jpgThe new Trailblazing scheme from the Royal Society sheds light on some of the most iconic scientific discoveries of all time, and allows users to access digitised versions of these iconic scientific papers.

The Royal Society, the UK academy of science, has announced a year of activity in celebration of its 350th anniversary. The new resource lets users freely access some of the world's oldest scientific papers online.

The interactive timeline features some of the earliest examples of research on animals which led to lifesaving treatments that we rely on in modern medicine. One of the earliest original papers featured is Robert Boyle's early experiment with blood transfusion from one dog to another.

According to Daniel Glaser, of the Wellcome Trust, who wrote the commentary for Boyle's entry on the interactive site:

‘In 1666, Boyle gave a somewhat gruesome account of one of the first instances of blood transfusion between animals, in this case two dogs. The following year, Richard Lower also performed the first transfusion of blood from a sheep into a human. He was one of the foremost surgeons of his day and was involved in pioneering discoveries in blood circulation and breathing.'

It would be over 200 years before blood transfusions could become routine practice, not least because scientists hadn't yet discovered the existence of different blood groups. More research was needed to understand how to keep blood for prolonged periods without it clotting. The technology - sterile needles, tubing etc, was also very primitive. Many of these advances were made possible through later research on animals. Now, thousands of blood transfusions take place each day in the UK alone, saving countless lives. For more information on the role of animal research in the development of blood transfusion techniques, visit our pages on Your Health.

Links:

Animalresearch.info http://www.animalresearch.info/en/

The National Blood Service http://www.blood.co.uk/about-blood/