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Collected in November 2017

What is this research about?

Maintaining a sufficient inventory of blood products for patients in need is of critical importance. The supply of Type O red blood cells is especially important because these “universal donor” products can be safely transfused to patients of any ABO blood type. This makes Type O red blood cells critical for emergency transfusions when the recipient’s blood type is unknown, or if there is an insufficient supply of ABO-matched blood products available for a patient in need.

In brief... While the overall red...

Collected in September 2017

What is this research about?

The immune system includes an army of white blood cells that help protect the body from foreign invaders. A T cell is a type of white blood cell that plays a central role in the body’s immunity. T cells recognize and react to foreign markers on bacteria and viruses as well as non-self tissues and organs and thus are a significant barrier to successful transplantation of organs and tissues.

In brief: A new technique that tricks the immune system could make tissue transplantation safer and more accessible.

...

Collected in August 2017

What is this research about?

Fetal and neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia, or FNAIT, is a life-threatening disease affecting approximately 1 in 1,000 live births, but what is it? To break down its name: fetal and neonatal – affecting newborns and babies still in the womb; alloimmune — an immune response from the mother against the baby; thrombocytopenia – resulting in low platelet counts. FNAIT is characterized by severe bleeding, brain hemorrhage, growth restriction and, in some cases, death of the fetus or newborn. The bleeding symptoms are...

Collected in July 2017

What is this research about?

Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) is the leading cause of transfusion-related death. This rare but serious transfusion reaction is characterized by severe respiratory distress within six hours of receiving a transfusion. Currently, there are no treatments available other than supportive care (oxygen and lung ventilation).

The causes of TRALI remain poorly understood; however, researchers believe that human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies from the donor are frequently involved. To explain why this reaction...

What is this research about?

Platelet concentrates (PCs) are derived from blood donors and consist of platelets suspended in plasma. PCs are transfused into patients with bleeding disorders. The greatest safety threat involved with PC transfusion is bacterial contamination. Staphylococcus epidermidis, a bacterium normally found on human skin, is the main PC contaminant. S. epidermidis can stick to the inner walls of PC storage bags, forming attached bacterial colonies known as biofilms that prevent detection of the bacteria during routine PC bacteria screening performed on a small sample...

Collected in May 2017

What is this research about?

Platelets are important for controlling bleeding and healing wounds. Platelet transfusions can restore normal platelet levels in patients who have platelet disorders or who have undergone hemorrhaging or chemotherapy. One of the major problems in transfusion medicine is the bacterial contamination of platelet units, which causes transfusion reactions, sometimes with fatal outcomes. Bacteria that are normally found on the skin are the main contaminants.

In brief: This study shows how bacterial growth is affected by...

Collected in Feb 2017

What is this research about?

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) present in our bone marrow generate all the cells of our blood system. Throughout our lifetime, they continuously generate our red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. HSCs can be isolated and transplanted to save the lives of patients with some types of cancer or blood disorders. After transplantation, HSCs settle (engraft) in the recipient’s bone marrow, where they begin to proliferate and generate the cells of the hematopoietic system to replace the defective or malignant cells that were...

Collected in Jan 2017 What is this research about?

Blood clots are necessary to control bleeding; however, too much clotting can be harmful. Heart attacks and stroke, which are leading causes of death around the world, are often caused by clots blocking the flow of blood to the heart and brain.

Blood clots in the body are normally broken up by the clot-dissolving enzyme, plasmin. Plasmin is generated when its inactive form, plasminogen, is activated by an enzyme called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Nearly three decades ago, tPA produced in the lab (recombinant tPA; rtPA)...

Collected in November 2016

 

What is this research about?

After blood is collected from donors, red blood cells are isolated from the blood and stored at 4°C in a solution containing anti-clotting agents and nutrients. This allows the cells to survive for several weeks (up to 42 days) before transfusion. Red blood cell transfusions help save lives at risk due to severe blood loss, low red blood cell levels as a result of chemotherapy, or diseases related to dysfunctional red blood cells.

During storage, red blood cells remain biologically active and gradually...

Collected in Oct 2016

What is this research about?

The immune system fights infection by identifying and destroying foreign material such as viruses and bacteria. Antibodies recognize these “invaders” through interactions with molecules called antigens on the surface of the virus or bacteria. Human cells also have antigens; for example, antigens on red blood cells determine blood types (ABO and Rh factor). If someone with type A blood receives a transfusion of type B blood, their antibodies will attack the unfamiliar “B” antigens on the red blood cells, causing a dangerous...

Collected in Aug 2016

What is this research about?

Serious adverse reactions to incompatible blood are caused by antibody–antigen interactions: if the recipient’s antibodies recognize an antigen on the surface of transfused blood cells, they bind to the antigen, which flags the blood cells for destruction by the recipient’s immune cells and can cause illness due to severe anemia. Similar reactions can occur in patients receiving other blood products, such as the plasma-derived drug intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).

The best conditions to successfully perform the...

Collected in July 2016 What is this research about?

Red blood cell transfusions are the most common procedure in contemporary medicine, and are used to treat a wide variety of conditions from anaemia to massive blood loss after trauma. There are many guidelines on when to give a red blood cell transfusion, but less is known about whether differences in red blood cell donors affect the outcomes of transfusion recipients. Although the donation and red blood cell preparation processes are standardized, there are inherent differences in every red blood cell unit because they come from unique...

Collected in April 2016

What is this research about?

Over 50 years ago, plastic replaced glass as the container of choice for collection and storage of blood and blood products. This greatly improved the safety of blood for transfusion by reducing the risk of contamination and containers breaking. Polyvinylchloride, better known as PVC, is the most popular plastic for blood bags because it is durable, strong and can resist temperature changes. However, PVC is inflexible and brittle. To make flexible bags suitable for blood storage, PVC must be combined with a chemical called a “...

Collected March 2016 What is this research about?

There is no question that blood transfusions save lives. Whether some blood products lead to better patient outcomes than others, however, has been up for much discussion. For the past 15 years, the biggest question has been: Does transfusing “older” red blood cells (i.e. those that have been stored longer before transfusion) lead to worse patient outcomes? The results of more than 50 observational studies investigating this question were contradictory, but recent clinical studies show no evidence of worse outcomes when older red blood...

Collected January 2016 What is this research about?

Dengue is the most common virus spread by insects. Typically transmitted through the bite of Aedes mosquitoes (like its close cousins West Nile virus and Zika virus), symptoms range from mild flu-like symptoms to, in rare cases, severe hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal. The global burden of dengue virus is considerable: Approximately 2.5 billion people are at risk and almost 400 million people are infected every year — about 25,000 die. Although mostly in tropical and subtropical regions, travel and increasing globalization...

Collected December 2015 What is this research about?

Canadian Blood Services’ researchers have made significant advances toward developing a new therapy for a bleeding disorder. Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is an autoimmune disease in which the body generates antibodies against its own blood platelets leading to platelet destruction. Platelets are important cells in the bloodstream that form clots to stop bleeding. When platelets are destroyed, bruising and bleeding can readily occur. A drug called IVIG can be used to treat ITP.

However, IVIG is derived from human plasma,...

Collected March 2016 What is this research about?

From the time of donation until transfusion, red blood cells can be stored for up to 42 days. During this time, the cells must be kept alive and functioning. Red blood cells are stored in solutions that contain nutrients and in bags that allow exchange of oxygen and other gasses. The cell’s metabolism – the chemical processes that sustain life – remain active in stored red blood cells. The chemicals that result from metabolism (metabolites), are released by the cells and can build up in the bag over time. These metabolites, and other...

Collected August 2015 What is this research about?

Chances are if you’ve ever given blood then you know your blood type. But why is blood typed and matched before transfusion? What exactly makes blood types different and why is it important? Blood type is based on antigens. Antigens can be proteins, sugars or lipids present on the surface of red blood cells. The body can use antigens as signals to distinguish "self" from "foreign". If incompatible blood is used, that mismatch can sometimes cause an immune response against the transfused red blood cells, destroying them and...

Collected July 2015 What is this research about?

Antigens are proteins, sugars and lipids on the surface of cells the immune system uses to distinguish its own cells, tissues and organs from those of another person. Antigens on the surface of red blood cells determine blood type and the most important blood group systems are ABO and Rh. ABO type is determined by the presence or absence of A and B antigens on the surface of red blood cells.

People have antibodies against the ABO blood group antigen they lack on their own cells. For example, people with blood group O have...

Collected July 2015 What is this research about?

When the body attacks its own cells, the results can be devastating. Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is an autoimmune disease in which the body produces antibodies against blood platelets. These antibodies bind to platelets and tag them, causing them to be recognized as "foreign" by the immune system and destroyed. Platelets work by sticking together and forming a plug that seals broken blood vessels, so the loss of too many platelets can lead to serious bleeding.

Platelets tagged with antibodies are thought to be...

Collected April 2015 What is this research about?

Proteins are responsible for most of the work in cells. Based on their functions, locations, and interactions with each other, proteins keep cells, tissues, organs and bodies healthy and working well. Within cells, proteins are built up and broken down as needed. Each protein is made of individual building blocks called amino acids. To build proteins, amino acids bond with each other to make short chains, called peptides, and longer chains, called proteins. Conversely, proteolysis is the process of cutting proteins into peptides or...

Collected March 2015 What is this research about?

Research from Canadian Blood Services has transformed understanding of a severe bleeding disorder in fetuses and newborns. Fetal and Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia, also called FNAIT, affects about 1 in 1000 live births. FNAIT can be lifethreatening. Intracranial (within the skull) bleeds are a major risk and occur in about 10 to 20 per cent of FNAIT cases. These can lead to brain damage, death, and loss of the fetus.

Blood platelets have long been the focus of FNAIT research. Platelets are small fragments that clot...

Collected January 2015 What is this research about?

Canadian Blood Services’ researchers have been exploring new ways to fool the immune system. Why? The hope is to provide blood to patients for whom a match cannot be found.

Blood cells, like all other cells and tissues, have proteins and sugars on their surface that can act as antigens. Antigens help the immune system distinguish “self” from “foreign.” Encountering antigens not found on the body’s own cells signals the immune system to produce antibodies against the antigen and attack the cells.

Blood type is based...

Collected November 2014 What is this research about?

Despite many safety improvements, blood transfusion still has some risks. These include the risk of illness if blood is contaminated with microorganisms called ‘pathogens’ such as viruses and bacteria that cause disease. Many approaches are used to reduce or prevent pathogen contamination in the blood supply. For example, donors are screened and blood donations are tested. However, testing only works for known pathogens. Unknown pathogens that cannot be tested for, called ‘emerging’ pathogens, are a risk to the blood system. This and...

Collected October 2014 What is this research about?

When a blood vessel is injured, a clot forms at the vessel wall to plug the injury. This is necessary to stop bleeding. However, clots may also form within vessels, for example when an atherosclerotic deposit (plaque) ruptures. These clots can become life-threatening, causing a heart attack or stroke. Maintaining a balance between preventing blood loss (called hemostasis) and preventing unnecessary clotting (called thrombosis) is critical. While much is known about how hemostasis/thrombosis is controlled in the body, the process is not...

Collected August 2014 What is this research about?

Occasionally, blood components become contaminated with bacteria. The source of contamination is often found to be bacteria that normally live on the skin. Human skin is home to millions of microorganisms. Skin ‘microflora’ includes many different types of bacteria, which may enter the blood unit during the donation process. If bacteria enter a unit, some may survive and even thrive during storage. The risk is greatest with platelet components. Stored at room temperature, platelets provide a particularly good environment for bacteria to...

Collected July 2014

Ever wonder why we prick potential donors’ fingers before whole blood donation? It’s to check levels of hemoglobin, the protein in blood that transports oxygen from the lungs to the cells in the body. If a potential donor’s hemoglobin is below a certain level, they cannot give blood. Hemoglobin contains iron, and low hemoglobin levels (called anemia) is often linked with low iron levels (called iron deficiency). So, why is iron important? Iron is an essential mineral; it is necessary for our body to function well, but we must get the iron we need from our diet....

Collected June 2014 What is this research about?

TRALI stands for Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury. As its name suggests, TRALI is lung damage that occurs in reaction to a blood transfusion. It is uncommon, but potentially fatal, and symptoms range from mild to life-threatening breathing difficulties. TRALI occurs when antibodies in the donor’s blood react with incompatible proteins in the recipient. This reaction may cause immune cells (called neutrophils) in the recipient’s lung to produce substances that damage the lung. However, why a patient develops TRALI is often not clear,...

Collected May 2014 What is this research about?

Premature infants often require red blood cell (RBC) transfusions to manage anemia of prematurity. However, there is some evidence that RBC transfusions may be associated with necrotizing enterocolitis, a devastating and potentially deadly disease affecting the intestines. Feeds are often stopped before, during and after transfusion to try to reduce the chance of this disease occurring. Unfortunately, this practice comes with other risks. Most importantly, stopping feeds around the time of a transfusion places the infant in danger of...

Collected March 2014 What is this research about?

Transfusion of red blood cells (RBCs) is a life-saving procedure. However, transfusion is not without risk. In very rare cases, transfusion can cause an often fatal disease called Transfusion Associated Graft versus Host Disease (TA-GvHD). TA-GvHD occurs when donor white blood cells, transfused along with the RBCs, take up residence in the recipient’s body. The donor white blood cells sense that they are in an incompatible host and attempt to "reject" the recipient. To reduce the risk of TA-GvHD, RBCs are separated by...

Collected September 2013 What is this research about?

Platelets are normally thought to be the primary cellular mediators of hemostasis and can encounter a variety of inflammatory processes. For years, however, data has been accumulating that platelets may not only be exposed to inflammation but may also work to mediate it directly. For example, platelets contain and secrete several biological mediators that have no obvious role in hemostasis but significantly affect local innate immune responses by, for example, attracting neutrophils to sites of inflammation. In addition, platelets may...

Collected July 2013 What is this research about?

Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to manage the supply of blood and blood products in Canada, except for the Province of Québec. The majority of Canadian Blood Services activities involve collecting, producing, testing, and distributing transfusable products (red blood cells, plasma, and platelets). One of the products produced is cryosupernatant plasma which is made by removing the cryoprecipitate from slowly thawed frozen plasma. Most patients receiving cryosupernatant plasma suffer from...

Collected September 2013 What is this research about?

Hypoproliferative thrombocytopenia (HT) occurs when the production of blood platelets by the bone marrow is reduced. HT may occur in patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia or in cancer patients after chemotherapy. In patients with HT, platelets are transfused to increase the platelet count to prevent excessive bleeding. Immune system recognition of mismatches between the platelet donor and recipient can cause ineffective responses to platelet transfusion. Cross-matching platelets is a method of selecting compatible platelets for...

Collected September 2013 What is this research about?

Hypoproliferative thrombocytopenia (HT) occurs when production of blood platelets by the bone marrow is reduced. HT may occur in patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia or in cancer patients after chemotherapy. In patients with HT, platelets are transfused to increase the platelet count to prevent excessive bleeding. Mismatches between the platelet donor and recipient can lead to ineffective platelet transfusion. Selecting platelets with compatible Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) between donor and patient, can make platelet...

Collected March 2014 What is this research about?

Canada’s Special Forces operate in extreme conditions and dangerous environments. When a soldier is injured, blood is required, but transporting blood under battlefield conditions presents challenges. Blood products must be transported through extreme environmental conditions where they can be sent to battlefield locations by parachute descent followed by long distance treks (usually in the backpack of patrol soldiers) over rugged terrain in extreme environmental temperatures. The stress of these transport conditions may impact the...

Collected July 2013 What is this research about?

Since the 1970s, Canadian regulatory standards have imposed a maximum shelf life of 42 days for red blood cells (RBC) to ensure quality of the transfused product. Recently, some studies have suggested that patients transfused with “older blood”, blood that is closer to outdating, may have a poorer health outcome. The exact reason why remains unclear and further research is needed to confirm these results. We are left to ponder: What if the shelf life of RBCs was shortened? How would it affect the RBC supply chain?  Because blood...

Collected May 2013 What is this research about?

Blood Operators, such as Canadian Blood Services, collect blood from donors with the goal to manufacture and distribute blood products to hospitals for use in patients in need. At Canadian Blood Services, red blood cell (RBC) units are the most common blood product distributed to hospitals. RBC units contain cells and biologicals that need to be stored under controlled temperature in order to maintain cell viability and limit bacterial growth. International regulatory agencies have established a “30-minute rule” to limit RBC exposure to...

Collected March 2013 What is this research about?

Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to manage the supply of blood and blood products in Canada, except for the Province of Québec. Canadian Blood Services tests every blood donation for known transmissible diseases, notably for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. At least two tests are done for each of these viruses to detect the genetic material (DNA or RNA) of the virus itself, as well as antibodies (the body makes these in response to a viral infection). However, if...

Collected March 2013 What is this research about?

Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to manage the supply of blood and blood products in Canada, except for the Province of Québec. The majority of Canadian Blood Services activities relate to collection, production, testing, and distribution of transfusable products (red blood cells, plasma, and platelets). In recent years, to optimize its operations, Canadian Blood Services has looked at consolidating a number of its blood production and testing centres.

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