The pursuit for blood a substitute has spanned over a century, but a majority of the efforts have been disappointing. As of today, there is no widely accepted product used as an alternative to human blood in clinical settings with severe anemic condition(s). Blood substitutes are currently also termed oxygen therapeutics. There are two major categories of oxygen therapeutics, hemoglobin-based and perfluorocarbon-based products. In this article, we reviewed the most developed but failed products and products still in active clinical research in the category of hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers. Among all of the discussed hemoglobin-based oxygen therapeutics, HemAssist, PolyHeme, Hemolink, Hemospan, and Hemoximer were discontinued. Hemopure is in clinical use in South Africa and Russia. Oxyglobin, the sister product of Hemopure, has been approved for veterinary use in the European Union and the United States. HemO2life has recently been approved for organ preservation in organ transplantation in the European Union. OxyVita and Sanguinate are still undergoing active clinical studies. The field of oxygen therapeutics seems to be entering a phase of rapid growth in the coming 10–20 years.
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