Cerus Corporation (NASDAQ:CERS), the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and their Blood Transfusion Center (CTS), and the Transfusion Service of the Swiss Red Cross (Transfusion CRS Suisse or Blutspende SRK Schwietz) announced today their intent to collaborate on adapting the Cerus INTERCEPT Blood System for red cells to enable inactivation of pathogens in whole blood, specifically for the African region. While patients in developed countries receive platelet, plasma or red cell transfusions, in many African countries whole blood transfusions remain common, and require development of pathogen inactivation methods optimized for use in local blood bank facilities.
The African blood supply is challenged by both transfusion-transmitted diseases and a shortage of available units for transfusion. Pathogen inactivation can provide protection from a broad range of transfusion-transmitted diseases without further restricting the scarce supply of blood donors. The collaboration is designed to draw on the distinctive strengths of each organization to seek the funding necessary to develop a whole blood PI system that can be evaluated in clinical use in Africa.
“We believe pathogen inactivation is critical to blood safety everywhere, and we currently use the INTERCEPT system to treat all platelet units produced in Switzerland,” said Dr. Rudolf Schwabe, chief executive officer of the Transfusion CRS Suisse. “Africa’s blood supply is at risk from many transfusion-transmitted diseases that can be prevented by use of pathogen inactivation. We see a great need in ensuring the safety and availability of blood for those patients in Africa who need it most.”
“In countries where whole blood transfusions are used to treat acute and chronic anemia as well as post-partum hemorrhage, the opportunity to reduce the risk of bloodborne diseases fits perfectly with the aim of our university hospital policy to develop international medical cooperation, training and humanitarian health actions to improve global health,” commented Dr. Soraya Amar-El Dusouqui, project director, CTS-HUG (University Hospitals of Geneva).