Blood

New way to check the quality of blood before opening the bag


Thursday, February 14, 2019
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Dr. Dana Devine Chief Scientist
Dr. Dana Devine, Chief Scientist, Canadian Blood Services

Researchers have developed a new technique to assess the quality of blood without breaching the sterility of blood bags, according to a new paper published by Dr. Martha Vardaki.

The study is part of a larger ongoing effort to develop non-invasive technologies to monitor blood products during storage.

“We know that some blood products deteriorate faster in storage than others, but we have no way yet to identify the ‘bad apples’ prior to transfusion,” says Dr. Dana Devine, chief scientist with Canadian Blood Services. 

For a few years, Dr. Devine has been collaborating on this project with Dr. Robin Turner at the University of British Columbia and his colleague Dr. Michael Blades who are experts in a technology called Raman spectroscopy. 

“Similar technology is used in some airports to determine whether the liquids that you have in your carry on are okay to take on board an aircraft without opening the bottle,” says Dr. Devine.

Using this technology, it’s possible to sample a liquid just below the surface of a container, including blood below the surface of a blood bag. This offers an option to make measurements in blood products without breaching the sterility of the blood bag.

In addition to Dr. Devine’s contributions, the study is also supported by blood products from Canadian Blood Services’ Blood for Research facility.

Read more about the study on the University of British Columbia’s website. 

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Stories worth Sharing: Highlights from our partners: Thrombomodulin: Old protein with new functions and hope


Friday, February 08, 2019

This week, we highlight work from one of our partners, the Centre for Blood Research. Wayne Zhao describes a review by Dr. Ed Conway, Centre for Blood Research director and adjunct scientist at the Centre for Innovation. This review describes the many roles of thrombomodulin, a protein involved in blood coagulation.

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Stories Icon Main

Wayne is a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Dana Devine at the Centre for Blood Research and a recipient of a Canadian Blood Services Graduate Fellowship.

Thrombomodulin is a fascinating protein. It was initially recognized for its role in blood clotting (coagulation) and hemostasis. Thrombomodulin modulates thrombin (hence the name!). Thrombin is a key player in the final steps of clot formation to stop bleeding. Thrombin converts soluble fibrinogen to insoluble fibrin, which is a major component of blood clots. Thrombomodulin reduces blood coagulation by acting as a cofactor for the thrombin-mediated formation of activated protein C, an enzyme that suppresses rather than promotes clotting.

In their review, Dr. Conway and Dr. Houra Loghmani, a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory, illustrate that thrombomodulin has many more roles beyond this traditional role in hemostasis. Studies over the past several decades have shown that thrombomodulin integrates many crucial biological processes and biochemical pathways. From coagulation to immunity, from inflammation to cell proliferation, thrombomodulin plays protective roles. Understanding thrombomodulin and its many roles could help advance our understanding of several diseases. To learn more, read Wayne’s blog post on the Centre for Blood Research site.

The Centre for Innovation is proud to partner with the Centre for Blood Research to deliver training and education events and support trainees.


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Research Unit: What's in a bag of plasma?


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Our latest Centre for Innovation Research Unit examines what’s in a bag of plasma. Plasma can be separated from a whole blood donation (called recovered plasma), or obtained by apheresis donation (called source plasma). Usually, recovered plasma is used for transfusion, and source plasma is sent for fractionation into plasma-derived drugs.

In this study, Dr. William Sheffield and Craig Jenkins from the Centre for Innovation tested levels and activities of important plasma factors for coagulation in recovered plasma. They also measured levels of immunoglobulin, from which the plasma-derived drug intravenous immune globulins (IVIg) is made. They found that the way in which plasma is manufactured from whole blood impacts the composition of recovered plasma; recovered plasma contains more immunoglobulin when the time between blood donation and manufacturing into plasma is shorter.

Many plasma-derived drugs, including IVIg and coagulation factors, are essential, life-saving treatments. The steady increase in use of these drugs, in particular IVIg, is putting pressure on supply.  While source plasma remains the major source of plasma for fractionation, this study provides valuable information on what’s in a bag of recovered plasma produced by Canadian Blood Services, and how manufacturing methods may impact yields of plasma-derived drugs.

To learn more, read our Research Unit here.

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Research unit

Research Units provide clear summaries of the results and impacts of research conducted at Canadian Blood Services. Written by Canadian Blood Services researchers in collaboration with the knowledge mobilization team, these summaries help disseminate research findings to facilitate informed decision-making.


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Annual progress report highlights the Centre for Innovation’s impactful research, development, education and training


Thursday, January 10, 2019

#WeDoResearch! Through our Centre for Innovation, our engaged network of scientists, medical experts, partners, and collaborators conduct and disseminate high quality, impactful research for the benefit of Canadian patients and the Canadian healthcare system.   

The Centre for Innovation’s goal is to drive innovation to improve the blood system by facilitating the creation, translation, and application of new knowledge to support a safe, effective, and responsive system of blood and related biological products for Canada. 

The last year was an outstanding one for the Centre for Innovation team. Their achievements and accomplishments are highlighted in the 2017-2018 Centre for Innovation Progress Report, which comprehensively catalogues the Centre’s research, development, training, and education outputs and outcomes over the past year.  

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C4I prog report

2017-18 Research highlights

Platelet shelf life extension - The Centre provided scientific knowledge and evidence to support Canadian Blood Services’ successful transition from a five-day to a seven-day shelf life for platelets.  

Product and process development - The Centre provided expertise to support the implementation of new equipment for blood component production. The evidence we provided helped the organization select new equipment while being confident of the continued quality of our products.  

Paradigm-altering discovery research -  We published several impactful studies on intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIg) and the immune disorders they treat. We also identified several potential IVIg replacement drugs that may reduce the burden on IVIg supply and improve patient outcomes. 

MSM Research Grant Program - In partnership with Héma-Québec, we initiated funding for research projects with the goal to evolve the current eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men (MSM).  

These and the many other successes highlighted in the annual progress report are achieved with funding from Health Canada, the provincial and territorial ministries of health, and other partners. Canadian Blood Services also benefits from and is grateful for the generosity of the blood donors who contribute to our research.  

As a result of the work of the Centre for Innovation, Canadian Blood Services, along with the broader healthcare system, is better positioned to address emerging medical and scientific trends, risks, opportunities, and technologies, and to lead change for the benefit of Canadian donors and patients. 

We are looking forward to seeing what exciting research progress 2019 will bring! 

Read the 2017-18 Centre for Innovation Annual Progress Report here


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Looking back on 2018: Top-five most-read stories from the RED blog


Tuesday, January 01, 2019

As the year comes to a close and 2019 is set to begin, we take a moment to reflect on the 2018 articles that were among the most popular.

#5: Raising awareness for living organ donation

In April each year, we honour organ donors and their families during National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week and encourage Canadians to consider organ donation, register their intent to donate, and discuss their wishes with families. This article focuses on raising awareness for living organ donation and was published in November on Giving Tuesday.

Kidney transplantation is life-saving and life-altering. Until we can clone or grow or print kidneys (who knows what the future holds), there will continue to be a need for kidney transplants. Transplantation through living donation has the potential to remove many people from dialysis and the transplant waitlists and alter the lives of not just the patients, but their families as well.”
– Kathy Yetzer, Associate Director, Living Donation, Canadian Blood Services.

Read more

 

#4: Meet the Researcher: Dr. Elisabeth Maurer

For the last few years, we’ve been fortunate to conduct interviews with our staff and adjunct scientists in this series of blog posts titled “Meet the Researcher…” This interview with Dr. Elizableth Maurer was number 4 on our most-read list.

"It is my vision that my work could improve the lives of others — if screening platelets could help reduce the number of patients who do not respond as well as hoped to platelet transfusion, and save more lives, this would be very rewarding.”" ~ Dr. Elisabeth Maurer, adjunct scientist, Canadian Blood Services

Read more

 

#3 In the news: UBC research brings us one step closer to universal blood

Exciting research from the University of British Columbia could make it easier to match blood to patients, by turning all blood into type O, the universal donor. This work was presented earlier in 2018 at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Boston, and created quite a buzz. We chatted wit our Chief Scientist, Dr. Dana Devine, and  Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu to learn more about this exciting advance.

Read more

 

Our top two blog posts are related to blood donor eligibility criteria and the research program that is working toward evolving the eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men.

#2 MSM Research Grant Program launches second funding competition

The objective of the MSM Research Grant Program is to ensure the generation of adequate evidence-based research for alternative screening approaches for blood or plasma donors, which could evolve the current eligibility criteria for MSM while maintaining the safety of the blood supply. The program is administered by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec with funding support from Health Canada.

Read more 

#1 The evolution of a donor deferral policy: where do we go from here?

Dr. Mindy Goldman, medical director at Canadian Blood Services, along with coauthors Dr. Dana Devine and Dr. Sheila O’Brien also from Canadian Blood Services and Dr. Andrew Shih with the Vancouver General Hospital,  published a review article in the scientific journal Vox Sanguinis, titled Donor deferral policies for men who have sex with men: past, present and future. This blog post provides an overview of the publication.

Read more

For the latest on this topic, an update on the MSM Research Program was published in December 2018

Thank you for reading about Research, Education and Discovery at Canadian Blood Services. We look forward to reporting on more exciting science, researchers and innovations in 2019 related to blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues. Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year

Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Meet the Researcher: Dr. Mel Krajden


Thursday, December 20, 2018

This week, we chatted with Canadian Blood Services’ adjunct scientist, Dr. Mel Krajden, about his research work at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and his role as a Canadian Blood Services adjunct scientist.

Where do you work and what is your role?

I am the Medical Director of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory (BCCDC PHL) and I have a special interest in hepatitis and viral detection methods as well as in health services policy.

Tell us about your area of research.

My laboratory research uses molecular techniques to: diagnose viruses; assess the correlation between infection and clinical disease; monitor the effectiveness of antivirals; and track microbial infections to understand their epidemiology, including how microbial infections spread.

My clinical research involves integrating prevention and care services for hepatitis. Specifically, we are using molecular epidemiology/phylogenetics – the study of how viruses spread and how strains of viruses are related – to understand transmission of hepatitis. We are also using “big data” to help understand how to measure population-level health outcomes and inform policy making to improve health.

I also have extensive clinical trials expertise and have served as a laboratory coordinator for a number of industry sponsored clinical trials.

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In late 2018, Dr. Krajden was the Chair of the Review Panel convened to review proposals submitted to the second round of funding through the MSM Research Grant Program. Learn more about this unique research program, the projects it supports, and recent progress towards achieving the Program’s goal of generating adequate evidence to evolve the current eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men.

What expertise/knowledge/experience led you to becoming a Canadian Blood Services adjunct scientist?

I have been a member of the Canadian Blood Services Scientific and Research Advisory Committee (SRAC) since its creation, and provide a public health perspective on communicable disease conditions.

As part of my role on the SRAC, I have been requested to provide input on transmissible agents such as hepatitis E virus and its implications to transfusion.

I have also been involved in the complex and controversial reviews of deferral periods for men who have sex with men (MSM) and Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer (LBGTQ) communities over the past few decades.

How does being a Canadian Blood Services adjunct scientist influence your work?

I have been a Canadian Blood Services adjunct scientist for about two decades! Earlier, I was directly involved in bloodborne transmission research. I used molecular epidemiology to help Canadian Blood Services identify the source of infection when nucleic acid testing (NAT) first identified a positive test result for hepatitis C virus in a blood donation. Now times and technology have changed. My role with Canadian Blood Services is largely advisory, while my own research supports the generic use of microbial phylogenetics to understand transmission dynamics. We are also working to understand how “big data” can be used to understand population health and drive policy.

What are you working on now?  

Our team is working on processes to integrate de-identified genomics data with population-level administrative data. Our goal is to understand how to optimize health services delivery design and use big data to drive health policy.

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"Science and medicine is like an addiction; for every answer, there are tons of questions to solve every day." - Dr. Mel Krajden, B.C. Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory

What inspires you?  

Realizing how little I know.

What do you find most exciting about your work?

Trying not to accept no as an answer.

What work are you most proud of?

Our integrated hepatitis data cohort of 1.7 million British Columbians.

When you’re not in the lab where could we find you?  

Skiing, cycling or hiking.

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

12th Earl W. Davie Symposium: a focus on the next-generation of blood researchers


Thursday, December 13, 2018

This post was contributed by Stefanie Novakowski, a PhD candidate in the Kastrup laboratory (Michael Smith Laboratories and the Centre for Blood Research, University of British Columbia). Tseday Tegegn and Bronwyn Lyons, also trainees at the Centre for Blood Research, contributed.

In November, the University of British Columbia Centre for Blood Research (CBR) hosted its 12th annual Earl W. Davie Symposium in Vancouver, BC. During the event, researchers, students, clinicians and patients discussed successes and ongoing challenges in hematology, from understanding basic mechanisms of clotting to improving patient care. Details of the invited talks can be found on the CBR’s blog here; however, a major part of what makes the day special is the enthusiastic participation of the CBR trainees. Throughout the day, the audience heard talks from four trainees, while 26 students presented their work during the poster sessions.

“Three of the invited speakers today told me how special the trainees are here at CBR. I have this on multiple occasions before!  I think that CBR not only has an excellent recruitment process in place, but we also offer very good training programs.” - Dr. Ed Pryzdial, Canadian Blood Services scientist and associate director of the CBR

Trainee talks: from blood clotting to neuroinflammation

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12th Earl W. Davie Symposium - photo 1

Parker Jobin (Overall Laboratory, University of British Columbia) presents his research during one of the day’s four trainee talks (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.)

While the key proteins involved in blood clotting were identified by Dr. Earl W. Davie and his colleagues over 40 years ago, many questions remain, including questions about the role of coagulation factor XII (FXII) in regulating clotting. In the first trainee talk of the day, Tammy Truong (Weitz Laboratory, McMaster University), described her work characterizing the interaction between FXII and histidine-rich glycoprotein, a protein found in plasma and platelets. This work could aid in developing new treatments for blood clotting disorders, reducing the risk of bleeding associated with current drugs. Tammy was a recipient of the CBR’s newly-established travel awards, made possible through the Sheldon Naiman and Linda Vickars Hematology Endowment Fund.

Most people attending a symposium on blood research would not expect to hear about the impact of dietary fibre on their health; however, this was not the case at this year’s Symposium. In an engaging talk, Hannah Robinson, (Osborne Laboratory, University of British Columbia), described how high dietary levels of guar gum, a soluble fiber, provides protection in animal models of multiple sclerosis, preventing entry of immune cells into the nervous system. While guar gum can be found in ice cream, Hannah was quick to point out that “ice cream is not the cure for multiple sclerosis.”

Occasionally, new roles can be found for well-characterized proteins. In his talk, Parker Jobin, a MD/PhD student in Overall Laboratory (University of British Columbia), described how tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase, a protein typically found within cells, can be released and alter cell growth in blood vessels, regulating inflammation. During the poster session, he shared how the Symposium has helped him in his professional development:

“At the Symposium, there’s a mix of both familiar and new faces. This provides an opportunity to hone your presentation skills in with colleagues you are comfortable with, while still meeting with many distinguished researchers and clinicians.” - Parker Jobin, Overall Laboratory

Poster presentations: the expanding realm of blood research

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Sreeparna Vappala (Kizhakkedathu Laboratory, University of British Columbia) shares her work with an engaged attendee. (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.)

At the Symposium, each of the poster presenters have the opportunity to practice their elevator pitches with 30-second ‘shotgun’ talks. Maria-Elizabeth Beava (Jefferies Laboratory, University of British Columbia) gave a particularly enthusiastic talk that highlighted how the field of blood research has grown since the early focus on blood clotting proteins, as her work focuses on possible links between eye disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. The Symposium offers both trainees and researchers a chance to learn about research outside of their area of study, an opportunity many trainees value.

“At the Symposium, you can meet patients, scientists and doctors. I had the opportunity to talk to a trauma surgeon today, which gave me a new perspective on my research. This Symposium is a great event that provides wonderful opportunities for students!” -Wayne Zhao, Devine Laboratory

Wayne is studying how temperature affects the quality and function of platelets used for transfusion, which are currently stored at room temperature. There is growing interest in storing platelets in the cold, as this may help improve their activity in patients with trauma and it may allow an extension of the shelf-life of platelets, which is currently limited to 7 days. Wayne’s findings may help inform Canadian Blood Services and other blood operators as they explore new possibilities with platelet products.

Platelets are also capable of mediating inflammation, and are known to bind to and internalize pathogens, including viruses. Tseday Tegegn (Pryzdial Laboratory) is following protein synthesis in platelets, with the goal of understanding how platelet interactions with the Dengue virus alter proteins in the cell. She is investigating whether this contributes to low platelet levels (thrombocytopenia) during infection. Moving from platelets to the immune system, Linda Yang (Scott Laboratory) is focused on adoptive cell immunotherapy, a promising potential treatment for cancer. She is studying what the cells used in this therapy release and deliver to cancer cells, to identify which specific components reduce cancer cell growth.

Throughout the day, posters were judged by the CBR’s post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, and investigators. This year’s winners were Emel Islamzada (3rd place), Tammy Truong (2nd place) and Stefanie Novakowski (1st place).

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12th Earl W. Davie Symposium

It’s all about the trainees: Dr. Stefanie Mak, Education Program Manager at the CBR, presents the 1st place poster award to Stefanie Novakowski (Photo courtesy of the Centre for Blood Research.)

Both Stefanie and Emel’s research demonstrate the roles of new technologies in blood research. Stefanie (Kastrup Laboratory, University of British Columbia) developed a method for delivering genetic material to platelets using nano-sized delivery systems, with the goal of creating modified platelets with improved activity during trauma or with extended shelf-life. Emel (Ma Laboratory, University of British Columbia) studies how red blood cells decrease in flexibility during storage using microfluidic devices, which allow single cells to be isolated and characterized. Her findings could potentially be used to identify ‘superdonors’, donors whose blood cells do not deteriorate during storage, leading to improved activity after transfusion.

From developing new drugs to learning how dietary fibre might impact our health, the 2018 EWD Symposium was a diverse and enlightening experience, and this based solely on the student presentations! The CBR symposia are always an invaluable learning experience for attendees, from trainees to patients to established researchers, and this year was no different.

The Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia hosts three Canadian Blood Services scientists and affiliated staff, postdoctoral fellows and students. Canadian Blood Services and the Centre for Innovation are proud to partner with the Centre for Blood Research to deliver training and education events including the annual Earl W. Davie Symposium.


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Funded research providing evidence needed to evolve eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men


Monday, December 03, 2018

Today, Canadian men are eligible to give blood if it has been more than one year since their last sexual contact with another man, which is known as the MSM eligibility criteria.

Canadian Blood Services has recently made progress on several fronts that may further evolve the eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men. This includes supporting more research projects as part of the MSM Research Grant Program and working to reduce the waiting period from one year to three months based on the latest evidence.

Supporting research

In October, four additional projects were funded as part of a second round of support available through the MSM Research Grant Program. This unique program, initiated in 2017, now combines research from a total of 15 research teams engaging researchers from across Canada with key partners and stakeholder organizations. Informed by national and international research experts, and actively managed by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, the program will generate evidence to inform alternative screening approaches for blood and plasma donors.

The newly funded projects investigate the feasibility of implementing source plasma donation with alternative screening approaches; the impact and opportunities for changes to blood donation screening; and mathematical modelling of the risk of transmission of viruses for various different strategies.

Summaries for all funded research projects are available on blood.ca 

The objective of the MSM Research Grant Program is to ensure the generation of adequate evidence-based research for alternative screening approaches for blood or plasma donors, which could evolve the current eligibility criteria for MSM while maintaining the safety of the blood supply. The program is administered by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec with funding support from Health Canada.

Estimating risk 

Dr. Sheila O’Brien, associate director of epidemiology and surveillance with Canadian Blood Services, is the lead investigator of a couple of complementary projects that use mathematical modelling to better understand the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections. The projects, titled ‘Mathematical modelling – Comparing HIV risk between MSM donation strategies’, began in 2017 with support from the MSM Research Grant Program.

Dr. O’Brien is working to create and refine mathematical models that will more accurately estimate the risk of an HIV infectious unit of blood being released for transfusion if any changes are made to the eligibility criteria for donors. By comparing the risk associated with various possible changes to the eligibility criteria, informed decisions can be made as to which option may permit men who have sex with men to donate blood without compromising recipient safety and the sufficiency of the supply of blood products.

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Dr. Sheila O'Brien

Mathematical models allow us to estimate the chance of an infectious unit of blood being released to hospitals for transfusion. By changing the data we include in the model, we can compare various donor eligibility criteria and estimate the risk to the safety of the blood supply.” – Dr. Sheila O’Brien

Possible changes to the donor eligibility criteria that are being assessed include individualized risk assessment (in which the MSM question would not be asked) as well as shorter waiting periods.  The mathematical models are informed by data generated by research projects funded by the MSM Research Grant Program.

These interdisciplinary projects bring Canada’s blood operators, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, together with multiple national and international collaborators including experts from the Australian Red Cross, the American Red Cross, Public Health England, Santé Publique France, and the San Francisco-based Vitalant Research Institute.

Thanks in large part to the mathematical models already developed by this research, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec can more accurately estimate the risks associated with reducing the waiting period for men who have sex with men. This refined risk assessment has been instrumental in setting the stage for a submission to our regulator, Health Canada, to reduce the waiting period for men who have sex with men from one year to three months.

Incremental change: submission to Health Canada 

While research efforts are underway, Canadian Blood Services continues to gather data on each blood unit collected, including pathogens tests results, and performs data analysis on a large scale. This surveillance approach has been instrumental in providing up-to-date information on the impact of reducing the waiting period for men who have sex with men to one year on the safety of the blood supply. We have discussed the results of the analysis with stakeholders (such as patient groups and LGBTQ+ groups) and with Héma-Québec, and are submitting a request to our regulator Health Canada to further reduce the waiting period for men who have sex with men to three months. 

This submission will be the latest incremental step by Canadian Blood Services to evolve the eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men. While the process is still in the early stages, we look forward to keeping the public updated on our progress.

As a blood operator, Canadian Blood Services has a responsibility to collect blood from donors who are at low-risk for any infection that could be transmitted through transfusion and who are unlikely to jeopardize their own health by blood donation. Difficult decisions need to be made about who can and cannot give blood. These decisions are not taken lightly and are not intended as value judgments of individuals. Any change to the eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men must be based on scientific evidence, acceptable to patient groups, and approved by our regulator, Health Canada.

More information about the eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men is available on blood.ca

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Centre for Blood Research summer students visit Canadian Blood Services


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

By Sarah Bowers, Undergraduate Student, Brown Lab, Centre for Blood Research

This post was originally published on the Centre for Blood Research blog. It has been republished here with permission with minor edits.

 

What is involved in getting blood that has been donated at a mobile clinic in Campbell River to a patient on the operating table at Vancouver General Hospital?

On Tuesday, July 24th, the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) Summer Students headed to Canadian Blood Services’ Vancouver location to find out. The donor centre and production labs are located at Oak Street and 32nd Avenue, right next to BC Children’s Hospital. Our tour was led by Dr. Tanya Petraszko, a hematologist and medical director at Canadian Blood Services.

Created in 1998, Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the Canadian blood supply. With 36 fixed donor centres and more than 14,000 donor centre events every year, they are responsible for recruiting and collecting blood, plasma, and platelets all the way from Halifax to BC. The only exception is in Québec, where Héma-Québec operates. Dr. Petraszko pointed out that this national scope is one of the things that makes Canadian Blood Services so special.

First, we headed to the donor centre where people were in the process of giving blood. As the CBR summer students had recently been on a tour of the Blood for Research facility (a special donor centre and lab — a part of the Canadian Blood Services Centre for Innovation), we were interested to learn how this centre compared.

The main difference here is that because the donated blood components are intended for use by hospitals for medical care, patient safety must be considered in addition to donor safety. 

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Canadian Blood Services - Vancouver

Canadian Blood Services in Vancouver. Photo credit: Canadian Blood Services.

The Vancouver location that we toured also houses the production laboratory where blood from all over BC comes for processing. The protocols for transport change based on a number of factors, including the weather. Red blood cells aren’t fans of the July heat! When we arrived in the lab it was fairly quiet. Dr. Petraszko explained that often the busiest time is at night as units that have been donated throughout the day arrive. Samples of these units will have been sent for testing for things like infectious diseases and blood groups. Once the units arrive, blood components such as red blood cells, plasma, and platelets, are separated and stored in appropriate conditions, just like at the blood for research facility. We watched as labels were placed on products to reconcile them with their test results. Once testing and production are complete, the products are released to inventory and are ready to be distributed as needed to hospitals.

Many of us were not aware of the other services that Canadian Blood Services provides to Canadians. Dr. Petraszko explained that Canadian Blood Services purchases plasma protein products on behalf of Canadians, and also operates a Cord Blood Bank, and the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. Dr. Petraszko highlighted that Canadian Blood Services now manages programs and services related to organ and tissue donation and transplantation. We were interested to learn about the Kidney Paired Donation program that allows people who aren’t a match for a loved one to still help through the swapping of compatible kidneys through multiple donor-recipient pairs to start ‘domino’ chains of transplants. Canadian Blood Services recently facilitated the 1000th kidney transplant through its programs!

The CBR Summer Students would like to extend a big thank-you to Dr. Petraszko, others at the Canadian Blood Services' Vancouver location, and Julie Kora for the opportunity to tour the facility. We now have a much better understanding of the work being done by Canadian Blood Services, and a new appreciation for its breadth.

Visit UBC's Centre for Blood Research to learn more


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Unleash your inner writer – Enter our first-ever lay science writing competition


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Use plain language to tell the story of your research in blood, plasma, stem cells or organs & tissues.

Call for submissions – Deadline: January 18, 2019

Theme: Research that matters!

We’re excited to announce the launch of Canadian Blood Services’ first-ever Lay Science Writing Competition. We’ve connected with key partners in the science writing and research communities (Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research) to host a competition that will put your plain language writing skills to the test. 

Submissions are open to members of the Canadian Blood Services extended research trainee network including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research associates directly or indirectly supported by Canadian Blood Services.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase to the public your research in the domain of blood, plasma, stem cells, or organs and tissues and take an exciting new step in the development of your vital communication skills…. Not to mention the opportunity to win a prize and get published. 

This year’s Competition theme is “Research that matters!”. Your entry must describe the impact of your (your lab’s) research on the transfusion and transplantation system and/or on our society. The work must be original, in English, and not previously published. Length of submission must not exceed 800 words. 

Canadian Blood Services will convene a jury to review and rank the submissions. Submissions will be judged on their writing and storytelling merits.

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lay science writing competition poster 2018

The winning writer will receive a $300 prize and the two runners-up will each receive a $100 prize. Selected entries will be disseminated through the Canadian Blood Services, Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research online platforms and social media channels.

Good luck!!

Find out more about the competition and download the competition guidelines

If you have questions, contact the Centre for Innovation by email at centreforinnovation@blood.ca 

Presented in partnership with the Centre for Blood Research and Science Borealis. 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

 

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