James Naismith invented the game of basketball. Michael Jordan helped bring the game into the national spotlight as one of the greatest to ever play. Dr. Edwin Joseph Cohn is both the James Naismith and Michael Jordan of protein science. And just like that, this might be the first article to ever reference Michael Jordan and Dr. Edwin Joseph Cohn in the same sentence. The hilarity fades quickly because it’s true. Cohn revolutionized the blood science world resulting in thousands of lives saved. His work directly impacts the field today.

Dr. Edwin Joseph Cohn was an innovator and a pioneer in the blood science sphere. He is considered by many to be the godfather of the science. Although his career was filled with accomplishments, perhaps most renown was the blood fractionation project he spearheaded during World War II.

The Breakthrough

During the war, soldiers who experienced trauma were likely to go into shock. Cohn discovered the body cannot produce enough oxygenated blood to sustain consciousness. Albumin was by far the most effective fraction for treating patients in this condition. The soldiers needed to quickly restore depleted plasma, and albumin sped up this process.

Cohn and his technical team were able to isolate the serum albumin fraction of blood plasma, which dramatically increased the likelihood of survival for trauma victims. Cohn also made use of gamma globulins, which contain a large percentage of antibodies. He wanted to ensure no portion of blood went unused, especially during war when it was a precious resource. Cohn's concept of using every component of blood was the beginning of a revolution in blood science.

Modified Cohn

While technology has advanced the fractionation process, the separation of blood components can still be traced back to Cohn's work during WWII. Cohn's methods were based on the use of pH, ionic strength, and alcohol concentration in order to isolate the proteins. In today’s cell culture media, the components are separated by the process of denaturation. With the use of acid, alkali, salt, or heat, various proteins can be extracted and purified for use in tissue culture, diagnostics, or therapeutic applications. Rocky Mountain Biologicals (RMBIO) utilizes these techniques to manufacture products such as Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA), Thrombin, and Fibrinogen.

V.K. Daniel

V.K. Daniel founded RMBIO with his son Suresh Daniel in 2004. His goal was to create high quality, industry-leading products using the knowledge accumulated throughout his career. Among the most influential mentors to V.K. is Dr. Fred Rothstein, one of Cohn’s closest associates. Regarding the opportunity to work under the tutelage of Dr. Rothstein, V.K. notes, “Working with Dr. Rothstein was the most valuable experience in my career. There are few practicing scientists in this field today that have such a close lineage with Cohn and his breakthrough work. Having worked with Dr. Rothstein allows me to look at cell culture media in ways very few have experienced.” This experience has helped shape the direction that RMBIO has taken in its development of protein products.

Working with scientists on research and development teams in companies like AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, RTI International and many more, V.K. and the team at RMBIO created Lipogro lipoprotein solution. Lipogro allows scientists and innovators to continue to move forward in cell culture media effectiveness without strict dependence on FBS. RMBIO's products, like Lipogro, BSA, and other protein fractions, help companies produce world-changing drugs. 

Dr. Edwin Joseph Cohn was an innovator and a pioneer in the blood science sphere, considered by many to be the godfather of the science. This article discusses the impact of Cohn's breakthrough work in blood fractionation on RMBIO's products.