Baxter International announced Thursday that it will begin thefirst test in the U.S. of a hemoglobin-based blood substitute inpatients with hemorrhagic shock.

The Deerfield, Ill., company (NYSE:BAX) will undertake thissafety study at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., whosetrauma center treated 58,000 patients last year. The companyexpects to expand testing to other U.S. hospitals later this year.

The substitute, DCLHb, is derived from outdated human blood.Its shelf life is a year instead of a few weeks, however, and itdoes not have to be matched to the recipient's blood type. It isalso cleansed of all known viruses.

Because of recurring blood shortages and the potential fortransmitting disease through normal blood transfusions, Baxterbegan trying to develop an oxygen-carrying blood substitute inthe late 1970s in conjunction with more than a dozenuniversity laboratories in the U.S. and Europe.

Baxter began European clinical trials in hemorrhagic shockpatients in February. The substitute is designed to carryoxygen in the bloodstream of patients who have lost largequantities of blood in accidents or for other reasons.

"We are very encouraged by the initial results from ourEuropean study sites," said Thomas Schmitz, general managerof Baxter's blood-substitute program. The estimated potentialworldwide market for oxygen-carrying solutions in multipleapplications could exceed $2 billion by the year 2000. -- NancyGarcia

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