Blood product sterilization taken too far?

June 12, 2014

Certain processes used to sterilize blood products could potentially cause serious health issues in transfusion recipients, according to an international study published in the journal Platelets and led by Dr. Patrick Provost of Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine and the CHU de Québec Research Center. These processes purportedly alter the blood platelets to the extent of preventing them from carrying out their functions correctly and may be the cause of hemorrhages observed in patients having received treated blood.

The function of goes far beyond their role in and wound healing. They contain up to a third of the human genome in the form of ribonucleic acid (RNA), allowing them to synthesize over 1,000 proteins essential to the normal functioning of the human body.

The presence of this genetic material explains why platelets are affected by pathogen reduction treatments. "The processes that are used target the genetic material of pathogenic organisms," explains Patrick Provost. "They were developed more than 20 years ago, before we understood the importance of the contained in platelets."

Dr. Provost and his colleagues discovered that these treatments activate , triggering the release of RNA. "The platelets end up depleted of RNA so, once transfused, they're unable to do what they normally would," says the researcher.

The treatments are already on the market in some European countries, notably Switzerland, France, and Germany. Manufacturers are trying to get approval in other countries, including Canada and the United States. Professor Provost regrets the dearth of independent studies that have focused on the safety of the processes and hopes regulatory authorities such as Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will take these results into consideration. "In light of what we have demonstrated, the potentially harmful effects of these treatments should be carefully evaluated in the countries where they are not yet approved. It should also be re-evaluated in those countries where they are," concludes Provost.

Explore further: New stem cell method may eliminate need for blood donations to maintain platelet supply

Related Stories

New stem cell method may eliminate need for blood donations to maintain platelet supply

February 13, 2014
Platelets, whose primary function is to prevent bleeding, are vital for treating various forms of trauma and blood diseases. However, they can only be obtained through blood donations at present. Researchers reporting online ...

Discovery of novel regulators of the birth of blood platelets

October 7, 2013
EU research has led to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that make certain blood-producing cells function normally. The research will help prevent diseases that lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Solution to platelet 'puzzle' uncovers blood disorder link

April 7, 2014
Melbourne researchers have solved a puzzle as to how an essential blood-making hormone stimulates production of the blood clotting cells known as platelets.

Researchers find key to blood-clotting process

June 26, 2013
Researchers, including Professor Alastair Poole and Dr Matthew Harper from the University of Bristol's School of Physiology and Pharmacology, have uncovered a key process in understanding how blood clots form that could help ...

Insights into type 2B von Willebrand disease

November 25, 2013
In response to blood vessel damage, von Willebrand factor (vWF) binds to the exposed extra cellular matrix, recruits platelets to the site of injury, and activates platelets, which promotes thrombis formation. Patients with ...

Recommended for you

Team finds link between backup immune defense, mutation seen in Crohn's disease

July 27, 2017
Genes that regulate a cellular recycling system called autophagy are commonly mutated in Crohn's disease patients, though the link between biological housekeeping and inflammatory bowel disease remained a mystery. Now, researchers ...

Study finds harmful protein on acid triggers a life-threatening disease

July 27, 2017
Using an array of modern biochemical and structural biology techniques, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have begun to unravel the mystery of how acidity influences a small protein called serum ...

CRISPR sheds light on rare pediatric bone marrow failure syndrome

July 27, 2017
Using the gene editing technology CRISPR, scientists have shed light on a rare, sometimes fatal syndrome that causes children to gradually lose the ability to manufacture vital blood cells.

Post-stroke patients reach terra firma with new exosuit technology

July 26, 2017
Upright walking on two legs is a defining trait in humans, enabling them to move very efficiently throughout their environment. This can all change in the blink of an eye when a stroke occurs. In about 80% of patients post-stroke, ...

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.