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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Blue Blood' Makes the Heart Beat Faster

For more than a decade, some of the Soviet Union's top scientists bickered and back-stabbed in secret laboratories while trying to answer a single question: Is it possible to manufacture a substitute for blood?

The result was Blue Blood, a milky liquid that was eventually pumped into the veins of soldiers wounded in the war in Afghanistan.

Today, in the same labs in one of the same Moscow research centers, those

white-smocked Soviet scientists have turned red-blooded businessmen. And they are hotly in pursuit of the answer to a new question: How's your sex life?

The researchers have transformed their Blue Blood know-how and connections into Nizar, a cosmetics firm with a trademark on a family of skin creams and gels containing the long-sought elixir. One line of products is bound to make hearts race faster: A flask of cream called Intim Ekstaz is for women who feel their sex life is no better than normalno, while the candid Intim Stayer is for men who crave, well, durability.

"They're sold in sex shops. And they sell well," said Oleg Oksinoyd, Nizar's director of research and development, smiling bashfully as he revealed the racier products only at the very end of an interview.

"This is more or less the material that was used in Afghanistan," he said. "No one before has used them in cosmetics."

Blue Blood, as Nizar admits, is little known among Russians, although the perestroika-era press offered the occasional article about what had been a secret project. Blue Blood, or Golubaya Krov, consists primarily of emulsified carbon and fluorine. Its defenders say that, like blood, it has the ability to carry oxygen when injected into the bloodstream.

Blue Blood is actually milky white, getting its nickname from the bluish hue that appears when it is held up to the light. It was tested on laboratory animals, but the Soviet Health Ministry never approved its use on people.

In the case of the Afghan war, using Blue Blood on the wounded gave the authorities the opportunity "to carry out a clinical study," said Yury Konstantinov, a Nizar employee who continues to work at the Interior Ministry Hospital on Novaya Ipatovka Ulitsa, where he saw Blue Blood tested on the casualties.

"Blue Blood was successful in treating the Afghan wounded. It was an emergency situation," said Oksinoyd, a chemist who began working on a blood substitute in the Soviet scientific establishment in 1980.

Oksinoyd said up to a liter of the liquid was used on some soldiers, and the only detected aftereffects were allergic reactions. In the laboratory, Oksinoyd said, test animals survived after most of their blood was replaced by Blue Blood. A spokesman for Afghan war veterans said he had no documentary evidence of Blue Blood's use. "I've heard about that kind of thing, but it was only at the level of conversation," said Vasily Benderchuk, chairman of the Association of Afghan Veterans for Moscow Central Region.

So is Blue Blood some sort of miracle substance? Likely not, say two Western doctors working in Moscow.

Many liquids, including lactates, can be used in emergencies as temporary substitutes for blood, said Eric Downing, chief medical officer at the International Medical Clinic.

Jacques Roy, a doctor at Mediclub clinic, noted that blood derivatives are used to treat wounds and rejuvenate skin. "This is one of the emerging fields of medicine."

For the Soviet military, Blue Blood offered enormous advantages. It needs no refrigeration, it is used regardless of blood type, and it will not transmit diseases like AIDS or hepatitis. But it costs 15,000 rubles ($5) a liter, twice as much as hospitals pay red-blooded Russian donors, Oksinoyd said.

Companies in the U.S. and Japan are believed to have been the first to work on blood substitutes, with Germany, France, Britain, China and the Soviet Union following their cue in the early 1970s.

In the United States, Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp. continues to work on a red-blood-cell substitute called Oxygent which, like Blue Blood, consists largely of emulsified carbon and fluorine. In Japan, Green Cross Corp. is developing a product along simliar lines.

In the U.S.S.R., three research centers in Moscow, Leningrad and Pushchino joined in "socialist competition" as they raced to develop a blood substitute. By 1983, the center at Pushchino outside Moscow -- the Academy of Sciences Institute of Biophysics -- had taken the lead.

But its success met with less than a warm reception from the jealous powers-that-be in the academy. The prosecutor's offices began investigating the center, and the Serpukhov Town Communist Party Committee began criticizing its work, according to a 1988 article in Literaturnaya Gazeta.

The campaign became so harsh that a scientist at the Pushchino center, Felix Beloyartsev, hanged himself, leaving a note saying he could no longer live in "conditions of calumny," according to Literaturnaya Gazeta.

Another scientist, Genrikh Ivanitsky, was fired from his job. By 1985, research had come to a halt."Step by step it died as a field of study," said Oksinoyd.

For Nizar, researching Blue Blood's medical uses would cost $500,000 a year, Oksinoyd said, so the company is sticking to cosmetics.

Nizar's marketing strategy -- its commercials have appeared on Moscow cable channels -- plays on the healing and rejuvenating qualities of Blue Blood. Skin creams and gels containing the liquid work more quickly and profoundly on the skin, Oksinoyd said, offering heat-sensing photographs to back up the thesis.

Boxed and bottled in Germany, scented in France, and with prices suited to Manhattan, Nizar's products look like imports. As in many European languages, the expression "golubaya krov" suggests a royal or aristocratic lineage.

"It's an elite cosmetic," said Oksinoyd. "It's also a lively name."

Elite perhaps, but the company is not overlooking the baser instincts. A Nizar cream called Intim Tonus purports to speed up sexual climax in men, while Intim Komfort offers to make the proceedings last a little longer for women.

The instructions to Intim Stayer recall the emotionless language of Soviet officialdom:

"Augments the duration of the sexual act without diminishing sensitivity for women. Takes effect within 15 minutes."

Says Oksinoyd: "When we show our products at the Ministry of Trade, no one can believe they were made in Russia."