What is pathogen inactivation?

Blood centres use a series of processes and procedures to minimise the risks of disease transmission and adverse reactions and to create a multi-layered safety screen for patient protection. These processes include donor selection based on health history, donor deferral registries, viral marker testing, specific processing procedures and component manipulations, such as leukoreduction. Although effective, these measures are reactive rather than proactive, and offer a patchwork approach rather than a comprehensive programme.

Over the past decade, new pathogen inactivation technologies have been introduced, offering a proactive alternative to these screening measures. Pathogen inactivation selectively damages genetic material. By preventing the replication of DNA and RNA, which is needed by contaminating agents (pathogens) to transmit infection, pathogen inactivation neutralises a broad spectrum of viruses, bacteria and parasites, as well as potentially harmful white blood cells, without interfering with the therapeutic effect of blood components.