Over the years, major advances in blood transfusion safety measures have drastically reduced the risk of viral transmission via allogeneic blood. Although correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation, it’s tempting to believe that this may have something to do with the thriving, pervasive (and quite frankly, annoying) presence of vampires in contemporary pop culture, but that’s a topic for another day. Since this reduction in viral risk, the greatest residual threat of disease transmitted by blood transfusion is bacterial contamination.1

Enter Verax Biomedical. Several years ago, the Massachusetts-based biotechnology company developed a 30 minute test that detects bacterial contamination in donor platelets prior to transfusion.2 The company is currently going through clinical trials for a similar test to screen red blood cells.3 Unlike viruses, bacterial contaminants can replicate outside a living host, so the ability to screen blood for bacteria right before transfusion is very important.3 Great news for blood transfusion patients!

-KB

1Brecher, Mark E., and Shauna N. Hay. "Bacterial Contamination of Blood Components." Clinical Microbiology Reviews 18.1 (2005): 195-204. NCBI. US National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2005. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

2"FDA Clears the First Rapid Test to Detect Bacteria in Pooled Platelets." News & Events. Verax Biomedical, 17 Nov. 2009. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

3Baum, Stephanie. "Technology to Screen Blood for Bacteria before Transfusions Raises $12M." MedCity News. N.p., 9 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

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