The Akademiska Sjukhuset in Uppsala is a leading university hospital in Sweden driven by innovation and new technology. By implementing the INTERCEPT Blood System™ from Cerus, it can now inactivate both known and emerging pathogens in donor platelet concentrates. Blood safety is improved, adverse effects are reduced, and lives are saved.
With blood safety as a primary concern at the Uppsala University Hospital, implementing the INTERCEPT Blood System made perfect sense. As Dr. Folke Knutson, Medical Director of the Department of Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, explains, “Our aim is to improve the care of the patients and to save lives. I’ve always liked simple solutions, and INTERCEPT gives us the confidence we’ve looked for, in an easy-to-use method.”
Outdated Technology Risks Patients’ Lives As Sweden’s oldest university hospital, the Akademiska Sjukhuset in Uppsala is renowned for embracing innovative solutions and adopting new technologies.
“Donor blood can be contaminated with bacteria. There are also many other risks, such as viral transmission, although that is less common here in Sweden,” explains Dr. Knutson.
Until now, the accepted standard for ensuring the safety of platelets for transfusion was routine screening for bacterial contamination by collecting a small sample for culture. But this method is hindered by poor sensitivity and the time it takes to propagate and identify the contaminating organisms. Often, bacteria and yeast can evade detection because they can stick together in clumps and may not be present in the sample.
“It’s an old technology that gives random results”, Dr. Knutson says of bacterial detection. “You are actually paying for false security, which is a serious matter. I estimate that one patient dies every two years in Sweden because of bacterial infection from donated blood. And several other patients are injured because of it.” Because of this, the hospital knew it had to find a better method of ensuring the safety of donated blood for transfusion.
Pathogen Inactivation Provides a New Proactive Solution The hospital found an ideal solution in the INTERCEPT Blood System developed by Cerus. The system inactivates a broad range of known and emerging blood-borne viruses, bacteria and parasites, as well as contaminating leukocytes.
“In healthcare, we are often reactive, instead of being proactive and developing preventive solutions. INTERCEPT is an excellent exception. It blocks the replication of both DNA and RNA, preventing the proliferation of viruses and bacteria. We don’t really need to know what exactly we are getting rid of. I usually say: why not just get rid of it all?”, states Dr. Knutson.
The Uppsala University Hospital implemented INTERCEPT in early 2007 and produces more than 4,000 platelet units a year. One great advantage is that the treated platelets can be stored for up to seven days.
“While you can’t put a monetary value on saving human lives, this is an affordable technology for the hospital”, Dr. Knutson says.
Globalization Poses a New Threat for Transfusion Medicine Infections carried by airplane passengers can spread quickly to multiple countries. New threats such as the West Nile and Chikungunya viruses have broken out in Europe. Old threats like malaria-bearing mosquitoes have been found in Sweden, possibly due to climate change. And emerging pathogens that we know nothing about today might be waiting around the corner. “That is why inactivating pathogens is so important for blood safety”, Dr. Knutson highlights.
Safer Blood Means Fewer Transfusion ComplicationsApproximately 700 patients receive platelet transfusions at the Uppsala University Hospital every year. “Since the introduction of INTERCEPT, the proportion of adverse events has declined by 50%, which is an excellent result", says Dr. Folke Knutson. He further states: “Another considerable advantage is that we can use these platelets for all kinds of patients, even for newborn babies.”
Simplicity Enhances Operational Efficiency INTERCEPT is designed for convenient and cost-effective integration into blood center operations. Dr. Knutson is pleased with the possibility of getting two platelet doses from just one treatment. “The same kit results in twice as much dose, which significantly reduces our costs”, he explains. Another benefit Dr. Knutson appreciates is the simplicity. He has determined that INTERCEPT provides a single system that can replace gamma radiation and bacterial detection for platelets. The platform is easy to use and is compatible with platelets prepared from whole blood or apheresis collection. Dr. Knutson sums it up by saying, “INTERCEPT provides a simple solution for today and the future. It offers patient safety, and that’s what healthcare is all about: the patients!”