Get Ready. Worm Blood Could One Day Be Coursing Through Your Veins

Jacob Elmer is an associate professor of chemical engineering at Villanova University. Image via

A Villanova University associate professor of chemical engineering is researching whether earthworm hemoglobin can one day replace human blood as donor blood for trauma care, writes Queen Muse for

Jacob Elmer said earthworm hemoglobin, specifically night crawlers and red wigglers, works without the side effects of human hemoglobin.

As many as 4.5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year who would not survive without donated human blood.

Blood bank shortages and preservation limitations mean blood isn’t always available in emergencies.

Substitutes based on human hemoglobin cause serious side effects, including heart attacks and strikes.

“All of these other problems are happening because you’re taking the hemoglobin out of the red blood cells. Earthworms are one of the few organisms that have hemoglobin but don’t have red blood cells. They never took that evolutionary step,” Elmer said. “That discovery is what led me into this field of specifically studying earthworm hemoglobin as a potential substitute for donated blood, and ever since, we’ve gotten nothing but good results.”

Elmer says his substitute has a potentially indefinite shelf life as opposed to human blood which can only be refrigerated for up to 42 days.

Read more about the potential use for earthworm hemoglobin here.

Editor’s Note: This post first appeared Dec. 20, 2019.

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