Date: 13 November 2018
The NIHR has funded new research to produce a filter that will allow patients to receive blood plasma transfusions without having to wait for plasma that matches their blood group.
The project is a collaboration between NHS Blood and Transplant, Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute (NIRI) and Macopharma, funded by an award of £1.13 million from NIHR’s Invention for Innovation programme (i4i).
Blood plasma contains the proteins that allow blood to clot, and it’s crucial for treating patients with severe bleeding after injury, surgery or childbirth. The plasma used must match the patient’s blood type, to avoid problems with antibodies from the plasma attacking the patient’s red blood cells.
In emergencies, plasma from donors with blood type AB (the ‘universal donor’ type) is used because it is compatible with all blood types. But only 4% of the population are blood type AB, so supplies are very limited.
The new project will develop a filter to remove antibodies from blood plasma so that it can be used for any patient regardless of their blood group. The ‘universal’ plasma produced by the filter could speed up treatment, reduce the risks of side effects from blood plasma, and simplify plasma supply to hospitals.
Dr Gail Miflin, Medical & Research Director from NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Plasma transfusion is an essential treatment for patients with life-threatening bleeding. Universal plasma would make it easier to ensure we can provide this in a timely and efficient way.”
Chris Fowler, Managing Director from NIRI, said: “This project has real potential to benefit health services – increasing efficiency, reducing costs and improving patient safety.”
The project recently won The Engineer’s Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) award in the healthcare and medical category for its prototype of the filter system.
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