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Hemoglobin-Based Oxygen Carrier (HBOC) Development in Trauma: Previous Regulatory Challenges, Lessons Learned, and a Path Forward.

Historically, hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOCs) were being developed as "blood substitutes," despite their transient circulatory half-life (~ 24 h) vs. transfused red blood cells (RBCs). More recently, HBOC commercial development focused on "oxygen therapeutic" indications to provide a temporary oxygenation bridge until medical or surgical interventions (including RBC transfusion, if required) can be initiated. This included the early trauma trials with HemAssist ® (BAXTER), Hemopure ® (BIOPURE) and PolyHeme ® (NORTHFIELD) for resuscitating hypotensive shock. These trials all failed due to safety concerns (e.g., cardiac events, mortality) and certain protocol design limitations. In 2008 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put all HBOC trials in the US on clinical hold due to the unfavorable benefit:risk profile demonstrated by various HBOCs in different clinical studies in a meta-analysis published by Natanson et al. (2008). During standard resuscitation in trauma, organ dysfunction and failure can occur due to ischemia in critical tissues, which can be detected by the degree of lactic acidosis. SANGART'S Phase 2 trauma program with MP4OX therefore added lactate >5 mmol/L as an inclusion criterion to enroll patients who had lost sufficient blood to cause a tissue oxygen debt. This was key to the successful conduct of their Phase 2 program (ex-US, from 2009 to 2012) to evaluate MP4OX as an adjunct to standard fluid resuscitation and transfusion of RBCs. In 2013, SANGART shared their Phase 2b results with the FDA, and succeeded in getting the FDA to agree that a planned Phase 2c higher dose comparison study of MP4OX in trauma could include clinical sites in the US. Unfortunately, SANGART failed to secure new funding and was forced to terminate development and operations in Dec 2013, even though a regulatory path forward with FDA approval to proceed in trauma had been achieved.

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