Pathogen inactivation technology: Cleansing the blood supply

Harvey G. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The calculated residual infectious risk of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) from blood transfusion is extremely low. However, the risk of bacterial contamination remains and a variety of other agents including emerging viruses, protozoa and tick-borne agents threaten blood supplies and undermine public confidence in blood safety. Traditional methods of donor screening and testing have limited ability to further reduce disease transmission and cannot prevent an emerging infectious agent from entering the blood supply. Pathogen inactivation technologies have all but eliminated the infectious risks of plasma-derived protein fractions, but as yet no technique has proved sufficiently safe and effective for traditional blood components. Half-way technologies can reduce the risk of pathogen transmission from fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate. Traditional methods of mechanical removal such as washing and filtration have limited success in reducing the risk of cell-associated agents, but methods aimed at sterilizing blood have either proved toxic to the cells or to the recipients of blood components. Several promising methods that target pathogen nucleic acid have recently entered clinical testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-237
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Internal Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Blood safety
  • Pathogen reduction
  • Transfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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