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NHS Blood and Transplant collaborates on pioneering new plasma filter project

13 November 2018

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has embarked on a three-year project in collaboration with Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute (NIRI) and Macopharma to produce a universal plasma filtration system that will mean patients who need transfusions won’t have to wait for blood-matched plasma.

The project has been awarded £1.13m funding by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) ‘Invention for Innovation’ that advances medical devices for increased patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need.

A bag of plasmaPlasma is the component of blood which contains the proteins that make blood clot and is often used to treat patients who suffer from severe bleeding after trauma, surgery or childbirth.

At the moment, a patient’s blood type must be compatible with the donated blood otherwise, antibodies in the donor’s plasma (known as anti-A or anti-B) can attack the patient’s red blood cells causing anaemia or even death.

In emergency situations, a patient’s blood type might not be known so the safest option is to administer group AB plasma that is compatible with all blood types. However, only 4% of the population have AB blood so there are very limited supplies.

So, NHSBT, is working with fellow researchers at NIRI and Macopharma to produce a filter that removes anti-A and anti-B antibodies from donated plasma so that anyone could receive a transfusion regardless of their blood group.

‘Universal’ plasma would speed up getting plasma to patients who desperately need it, reduce the risk of patients having a reaction to plasma, as well as simplifying the supply of plasma to hospitals and reducing wastage of valuable blood donations.

Dr Gail MiflinDr Gail Miflin, medical and research director at NHSBT 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.”

The project, formally known as Sanguis, recently won The Engineer’s Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) award in the healthcare and medical category for its development of this technology.

Chris Fowler, managing director of NIRI said: “NIRI developed this technology as we feel it has real potential to benefit the health services – increasing efficiency, reducing costs and improving patient safety.”

Sonia Chatellier, R&D director – transfusion unit at Macopharma said: “Universal plasma should lead to changes in the current practices of blood banks and help to meet blood component demand from hospitals in a very efficient way.”

Contact us

For additional information please contact the NHS Blood and Transplant Press Office on 01923 367 600 or email pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk

For out of hours enquiries please call: 0117 969 2444

Notes to editors

NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. We are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.

This venture is an effective collaboration between NIRI Ltd (a nonwovens and materials innovation company), NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT, supplier of blood in England) and Macopharma UK (supplier of blood packs and associated filters to the UK and other countries)

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:

  • funds high quality research to improve health
  • trains and supports health researchers
  • provides world-class research facilities
  • works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
  • involves patients and the public at every step