Dr. Adrianno Aguzzi of the Institute of Neuropathology, University Hospital of Zurich, and one of the pre-eminent prion biologists in the world says, "There have been two probable cases of human-to-human vCJD transmission via blood transfusion. Since there are no clinical signs or symptoms of the disease for many years, a proportion of the UK population could be incubating vCJD and acting as blood donors. The most direct action to reduce the risk of transmission may come from new methods to provide prion protection."
The Leukotrap Affinity Prion Reduction Filter removes all types of prions in addition to leukocytes (white blood cells) from red blood cells. Prions can be either cell-associated (on white blood cells) or non-cell associated. Studies with the new prion filter show that it removes 99.9 percent of the infectious agent from red cells.
A filtration approach to prion protection offers significant advantages over other potential technologies. Filtration is currently an integral part of standard blood processing and handling in the UK and many other countries. This enables easier and more cost effective implementation of the new prion reduction filter into established good manufacturing practices.
Unlike pathogen inactivation, the new filter does not rely on chemical additives, which could damage or compromise the therapeutic value of a blood transfusion such as the oxygen carrying properties of red cells. A filtration approach also avoids the ethical issues associated with diagnostic testing, such as alerting a blood donor that he or she has an invariably fatal disease. Regardless, there are no available diagnostic tests sensitive enough to identify asymptomatic vCJD infected people.
Measures to Safeguard the Blood Supply
Since vCJD emerged, the UK has taken steps to reduce the risk of food-borne infections from consumption of contaminated bovine produc