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The INTERCEPT™ Blood System for platelets and plasma uses the unique properties of a specially-developed molecule, amotosalen, which targets the basic biological difference between the therapeutic components of blood and the harmful pathogens that blood carries. When activated by UVA light, amotosalen binds to and irreversibly blocks the replication of DNA and RNA. Because white blood cells depend on this replication and pathogens need it to transmit infection, this process inactivates a broad range of enveloped viruses, non-enveloped viruses, Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, spirochetes and parasites, as well as white blood cells, which can cause adverse reactions.
Pathogen inactivation of red blood cells requires a different mechanism because light cannot penetrate these cells to activate the amotosalen. Cerus has developed a technology to achieve the same effect of blocking DNA and RNA replication using a proprietary chemical, amustaline, in combination with an antioxidant to cause a reaction based on acidity. The INTERCEPT red blood cell system is currently in clinical development.