The Swiss Red Blood Cell Network – Expanding the scope of current research

Risk assessment for healthy humans and animals that are ill, practice amateur or professional sports or are exposed to extreme environments like high altitude, desert, diving etc. may be performed in the future based on blood analysis results. The need of such tests for the clinical application within “One health” program is equally high. Novel blood testing methods for advanced diagnosis, monitoring of therapeutic efficacy and personalized approaches for treatment optimization are clearly within the first priorities of this program. The goal for such advanced and robust blood testing is to evaluate severity of diseases that may not necessarily be blood-borne, but impacting red blood cell properties, such as cardiovascular disorders, cancer or diabetes.
Finally, advanced testing of red blood cell properties is useful in studying the effects of lead compounds of red blood cell properties in vivo and ex vivo, as well as in development of treatments in which red cells are used as containers loaded with highly immunogenic or toxic cargo.

The need and the market for such new technology is hard to overestimate, and multiple groups all over the world are bringing us closer to the goal. What will make Switzerland one of the leaders in this race? Several components are required:

  •   Competence and knowledge of researchers in the field.
  •   Close connections of these research groups to the partners in the clinics, informatics, and industry.
  •  Platform including the infrastructure to support the partners and clients interested to engage in projects in this research area.
  •  Training for young specialists to generate new knowledge, develop technologies and apply the new tools in the clinics.

The seed-groups of experts are already present in Switzerland, each focusing on different aspects of red blood cell-related research and technology. Missing is network that could amplify capacities of these groups and axillary collaborations with industrial and clinical partners. Also missing is shared infrastructure that could be used by the network partners. When formed, Swiss Red Blood Cell Network that would be robust to contribute to the development of new technologies, and in training the personnel for acquiring it as soon as it will become available. As a unit, this network will be integrated into a broader system of national and international European networks (LabEx, European Training Networks such as RELEVANCE or EVIDENCE, ERA PerMed and others)