Historic: FDA approves first-ever system to cut blood transfusion infections
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the first-ever pathogen reduction system to treat blood plasma, Cerus Corp's Intercept Blood System.
- The system aimes to reduce the number of infections, such as HIV, West Nile virus, and hepatitis, transmitted during blood transfusions through plasma.
- The Intercept Blood System works by exposing blood plasma to ultraviolet light and the chemical amotosalen. This process is able to destroy pathogens in the plasma, which can then be purified before transfusion. Health officials say such a system could be especially vital in countries with less developed healthcare systems. For instance, it is already in use in clinical trials in West Africa to facilitate safer blood transfusions to Ebola patients.
Cerus executives hailed the system's capacity to cut out infections before they become unexpected problems, underscoring the fact that it's difficult to test for every potential pathogen that could pop up during a transfusion.
“You can’t test for something unless you know what it is,” said William M. Greenman, Cerus CEO, in an interview with the New York Times. He also said Intercept was “much more comprehensive than what you would be able to achieve with testing.”
Cerus stock skyrocketed on the news of the approval.