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Red blood cell (RBC) transfusion carries multiple risks, each of which is relatively small, except in some highly endemic areas. It appears unlikely that a laboratory screening intervention to minimise any one of these risks will be implemented.
Pathogen inactivation (PI) offers a solution by mitigating multiple risks with a single intervention.
The potential specific benefits of PI-RBC technology include:
- Reducing risk significantly for most current transfusion-transmitted pathogens (HIV, HCV, HBV, HTLV, WNV, syphilis, CMV, Babesia).
- A greater margin of protection against transfusion-associated graft versus host disease (TA-GVHD) than irradiation due to robust white blood cell (WBC) inactivation.
- The possible reduction of WBC alloimmunisation.
- Operational benefits in blood production and inventory management: eliminate double RBC inventories for cytomegalovirus (CMV) and irradiation status and avoid recall of RBC units associated with bacterially contaminated platelets (PLTs).
- Eliminating donor screening questions.
Pathogen inactivation of red blood cells should be viewed in the context of having a fully pathogen-inactivated blood supply, enabling a blood safety paradigm shift from reactive to proactive.
INTERCEPT for red blood cells is under development.