Alves is trying to develop the most accurate blood analogs possible, but his solutions would never enter the human body as a blood substitute. Instead, he wants to model how blood flows under abnormal conditions, such as in the presence of blood clots or abnormal blood vessels.
"In our case, we just want to have a good substitute for fluid mechanics experiments, so that we can mimic what happens with diseases and understand what's going on," said Alves.
Plasma's newfound stretchiness probably won't lead to more realistic blood substitutes for human bodies anytime soon. Alves pointed out that most current blood substitutes focus on delivering oxygen to the body in emergency situations, not on imitating blood's exact behavior. But the next generation may be more ambitious.
"In the future, people will try to mimic as well as possible the properties of blood," said Alves. "Evolution took us to the point where blood has these properties, and it's not by accident—it's because of physiological function."