ExThera Medical and BioBridge Global will collaborate in research program to apply ExThera’s Seraph® Microbind® technology for removal of bacterial and viral threats to global blood supply
ExThera Medical announced today that it is partnering with blood-banking leader BioBridge Global (San Antonio) in a research and development collaboration to evaluate new methods for the removal of bacteria and viruses from human banked blood and blood product, using ExThera’s broad-spectrum, biomimetic sorption hemoperfusion technology.
BioBridge Global (BBG) is a non-profit company that oversees and supports the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, QualTex Laboratories, GenCure, and The Blood and Tissue Center Foundation. BioBridge Global’s mission is to bridge critical medical needs with innovative solutions. BBG and its affiliates have established research relationships with Scripps Research Institute, StemBioSys Inc., University of Texas Health Science Center, Saneron CCEL Therapeutics Inc., and Dendreon.
“The blood is as safe as we can possibly make it using today’s testing technology. Taking part in a study that can provide additional layers of safety to the blood supply is advantageous for our business,” said Linda Myers, CEO of BioBridge Global. She adds, “Our core business has been collecting and testing blood and stem cells and we are very pleased to be working with ExThera Medical. This collaboration is a welcome fit as we continue to obtain partners for clinical research on a global basis.” While the U.S. blood supply is widely regarded as among the safest in the world, pathogens continue to evolve in ways that require vigilance to maintain that record of success. In 2010, the American Red Cross published its concerns about high-risk emerging infectious disease agents that may pose a significant risk to the U.S. and Canadian blood supplies in the future. The three pathogens classified with the highest risk were dengue virus, Babesia species, and prions, which cause human variant Creutzfelt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which is linked to bovine spongiform encephalitis (Mad Cow Disease). Examples of sufficient risk to undertake action include Leishmania species, Plasmodium species, and Trypanosoma cruzi.
Transfusion-related sepsis is another concern. Common bacterial threats include S. epidermis, S. aureus, Bacillus spp., Enterobacteriaceae, Y. enterocolitica, and P. aeruginosa.
Globally, the threats to the blood supply in poorer countries are far greater than in the USA, requiring new technologies to avert disease transmission. In 2011, there were a total of 92 million blood units donated worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 11 percent of all blood units donated were not screened for one or more viruses, including HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. In low income countries, only 53% screen blood using basic quality procedures. A single-use device that can quickly, safely and economically remove virulent pathogens from blood could have a significant impact on world health.
In its original therapeutic application, ExThera’s Seraph® Microbind ® Affinity Blood Filter (“Seraph”) has received enthusiastic scientific and clinician support for its potential to remove a wide range of bacteria, pathogens, toxins and pro-inflammatory cytokines directly from a patient’s blood in a procedure that resembles dialysis. One goal is to thwart bacteremia and viremia early, thereby preventing severe sepsis and septic shock.
“We think of Seraph as the device equivalent of a very broad spectrum anti-infective drug…but one that does not add anything to the blood or induce resistance in the pathogens it removes. In all our testing, bacteria that have already become drug resistant are just as easily removed by Seraph, as drug-susceptible species,” said Robert S. (“Bob”) Ward, CEO of ExThera Medical.
“The broad-spectrum removal capability we built into the therapeutic version of Seraph for clinical use is also ideal for use on individual units of banked blood… and just like the therapeutic version, the unit we will optimize for blood bank use will remove even unidentified pathogens. Seraph’s impact on both patients and health care systems all over the world could be tremendous, and there is great synergy between our R&D work in blood banking, and our therapeutic uses of Seraph,” added Ward.
“We are extremely happy to be working with BioBridge Global and their outstanding scientific and management team. Their extensive experience and deep understanding of all aspects of blood banking and testing will be invaluable. Their location in San Antonio, an innovation center for advanced military medicine, is another plus,” concluded Ward.