Plasma

Exploring barriers and enablers to more inclusive source plasma donations


Thursday, May 16, 2019

One of fifteen MSM research projects being funded by Health Canada, the Feasibility of implementing source plasma with alternative screening criteria for men who have sex with men seeks to identify barriers and enablers that will inform how Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec address eligibility screening criteria in the future.

Canadian Blood Services, medical director Dr. Mindy Goldman, and research project lead investigator Justin Presseau provide insight into how this project will unfold; what it means to Canada’s national blood system; and why it matters.

Plasma, which can be stored frozen for months before being sent for manufacture of plasma protein products, offers a unique avenue for undertaking the type of research that may help broaden Canada’s eligibility criteria to include groups that were unable to donate in the past.

“This research is necessary to try and identify a low risk group of MSM who could donate plasma and move away from a time-based deferral for all sexually active MSM,” explains Dr. Goldman.

For Justin Presseau - whose research program involves studying how to improve healthcare services, while seeking to understand and support altruistic behaviours or selfless acts that people undertake for the benefit and health of others - a feasibility study focused on studying barriers and enablers for men who have sex with men (MSM) to contribute, was a natural fit.

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Mindy Goldman and J Presseau

“While sexually active MSM have historically been limited from donating, the national and international conversation and research are starting to explore alternative criteria that would allow more MSM to donate by focusing on what people do, rather who they do it with, or how long it has been since they have,” explains Presseau. “And speaking personally, that is just the right thing to do. Lots of MSM have safe, low risk sex and could give back by providing life-saving plasma donations if given the opportunity to do so,” he adds.

“A lot of my work is in practice-changing research, and so I also understand that policy changes can be slower than we might like, but ultimately thanks to research evidence, the policies for MSM in Canada are moving in the right direction towards greater inclusivity,” explains Presseau. “My hope is that our research will meaningfully contribute to the move towards more inclusive policies that maintain the safety of the supply that Canadians expect,” he says.

This project involves a great many collaborators and requires active engagement with the MSM community at various intervals. In Justin Presseau’s view, meaningful, impactful research needs to be a ‘team sport’ that brings together partners with different skills, knowledge, and expertise to address complex issues.

“Throughout this study, from start to finish, we’re making community engagement an ongoing priority. I am delighted that we have assembled an engaged team of collaborators including health researchers, Canadian Blood Services, donation centre staff in London, and MSM from the community,” notes Presseau. “Building this research team was the first step and branching out beyond this core team to welcome community members onboard is the next step,” he adds.

Collaboration efforts include: open community conversations in London, Ontario, such as the Aeolian Talk on May 13, 2019 and having a presence at the annual Pride London Festival in July. Presseau is hoping that these types of discussions will lay the foundation for building trust and establishing partnerships that will span the length of the study and beyond.  “We’re currently looking for local advisory group members, who are passionate and interested in this topic—no previous research experience required,” says Presseau.  He enthusiastically encourages all who are interested to ‘get in touch’.

The project, which is just getting started in London, is expected to last two years. During this two-year period, researchers will seek to engage and document the perspectives expressed by the London MSM community, through discussions, interviews, and an online survey. “As research evidence continues to play a central role in the evolution of donor eligibility criteria in Canada, MSM should have a seat at the table in discussions on the move to more inclusive criteria,” adds Presseau.

The research team will also work closely with Canadian Blood Services donation centre staff to understand their views, training needs, and methods, as well as to ensure that any future changes to eligibility criteria can be implemented as smoothly and consistently as possible. Likewise, they intend to speak with current, repeat donors to better comprehend the practical and social aspects of donation. In the second year, they will build on what they’ve learned. Once we have analyzed what we hear from MSM, ongoing donors, and clinic staff, we will work in partnership with them to develop solutions and materials that can usefully address the barriers that have been identified,’ says Presseau.

“We have seen tremendous evolution in our policies, while maintaining the safety of the blood supply.  We realize that there is still quite a bit more work to do, but with the help of our stakeholders, we will continue to make progress,” says Dr. Goldman.

Guided by what the community feels would be most helpful, Presseau expects to develop a range of content such as videos, online resources, policy briefs, training and workshops. “Our hope is that this research will set the stage for better implementation of alternative eligibility criteria if/when policies in Canada change” adds Presseau.

Justin Presseau is a Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa in the School of Epidemiology and Public Health and the School of Psychology. He is also the Scientific Lead for Knowledge Translation at the Ottawa Methods Centre. He has particular expertise in implementation science research, and in the development and evaluation of healthcare improvement interventions including pilot and feasibility studies that inform larger scale randomized trials of healthcare interventions. He has particular methodological expertise in the use of rigorous methods for identifying barriers and enablers in various stakeholders (patients, members of the public, and healthcare providers) to inform the development of strategies for changing health behaviours. Dr. Presseau will ensure the methodological rigour of the research approach and oversee the conduct of the research, the analysis of findings, the budgetary expenditures and the dissemination of findings. 

Mindy Goldman is the Medical Director for Donor & Clinical Services, Medical Affairs and Innovation, Canadian Blood Services, whose group is responsible for developing donor eligibility criteria.  She has participated in the development, evaluation and implementation of criteria changes for MSM, and has expertise in regulatory requirements and international policies for blood and plasma donation.  She will develop potential alternative eligibility criteria for MSM plasma donors, in collaboration with other members of the study team, Héma-Québec, and consultations with the regulator, Health Canada.  She will ensure that study results will be as applicable as possible to Canadian Blood Services operations after conclusion of the study.


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.

University of Alberta’s Timothy Caulfield receives James Kreppner Award


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The 2018 Canadian Blood Services’ James Kreppner Award has been awarded to Timothy Caulfield, professor and research director in the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.   

Valued at $50,000, the award will support Professor Caulfield’s project to analyze the marketing practices of private cord blood banks, assess their claims, and consider how regulatory tools can help ensure services marketed are done in a scientifically informed and evidence-based manner.    

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Canadian Blood Services' James Kreppner Award awarded to Timothy Caulfield

“The entire Health Law Institute team is thrilled about this award, and we truly appreciate the opportunity to dig into the complex issues associated with donation, blood products and policy development,” says Professor Caulfield. “The research seems both timely and needed. We are lucky to have an award of this nature and hope our work will reflect James Kreppner's fearless analysis of controversial issues.”  

James Kreppner was a former board member of Canadian Blood Services, a lawyer, and a strong advocate for patients’ rights and blood safety. He suffered a severe form of hemophilia-A – a genetic disorder that makes it difficult for blood to clot, and his condition often required transfusions of blood products. In 1985, he became infected with HIV and hepatitis C through tainted blood products.  

Mr. Kreppner became a key figure in establishing the public inquiry into contaminated blood and testified twice before The Krever Commission. He was also a long-time volunteer and member of the Canadian Hemophilia Society before his passing ten years ago on May 14, 2009.   

This annual award named in his honour supports one high-quality research project that explores legal and policy questions relevant to the products and services provided by Canadian Blood Services. The award’s research priorities include the legal and regulatory aspects of (a) donation, collection, storage, and use of blood, blood products, and hematopoietic stem cells; and (b) organ and tissue donation and transplantation.   

Through a series of funding programs and research collaborations, the Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation conducts and supports research in key priority areas, including projects that span the translational continuum from “bench to bedside.”  

The 2019 competition for the James Kreppner Award will open for applications in Fall 2019 and will support one project with up to $50,000 for a period of one year.   

Find out more about current and past James Kreppner Award program projects:  

Further reading:  


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.

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.

Nominations now open for the 2019 Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award


Monday, May 13, 2019

Do you know someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the blood system in Canada?   

Who can be nominated?  

Recipients of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award are individuals whose landmark contributions are recognized as both extraordinary and world class in the field of transfusion or transplantation medicine, stem cell or cord blood research in Canada and/or abroad. 

To be nominated for the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award, an individual must have contributed significantly to improving the safety and/or quality of blood, blood products, stem cells and/or cord blood or has made noteworthy improvements or advances in transfusion or transplantation medicine practice. Their record of publication should be of significance and their professional reputation should be aligned with the goals and reputation of Canadian Blood Services, reflecting a quality culture driven by excellence. 

The award will be presented on September 23, 2019 in Ottawa at the annual national Honouring Canada’s Lifeline event where we honour our donors, volunteers, peer recruiters and partners from across the country and across our products for their outstanding dedication and achievements. 

 

What's the nomination process? 

Nomination requirements 

  • Provide a short introduction and summary in 150 words or less of the nominee’s contribution to improving the safety and/or quality of blood, blood products or stem cells, or contribution to advances in transfusion medicine practice. 
  • Present a brief biography including academic, research, clinical and administrative positions, awards or recognitions. 
  • Outline how the work of the nominee is set apart from the work of others in the field. 
  • Provide a nominee’s full current curriculum vitae and contact information for the nominee including full name, mailing address, telephone number(s) and email address. 
  • Provide name and contact information for the nominator(s). 

Note: Candidates should be unaware that they have been nominated for this award. 

Submit nominations in writing to the address below:  

By mail:  

Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award Nominating Committee 

c/o Dr. Isra Levy, Vice President, Medical Affairs and Innovation 

Canadian Blood Services 

1800 Alta Vista Drive 

Ottawa, Ontario K1G 4J5 

By email:  

isra.levy@blood.ca    

 

Submission deadline: May 30, 2019 

The nominator of the awardee, and the nominee selected, will be notified by the end of June 2019. 

 

Past honourees 

The Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award came into existence in 2002. To date, the Canadian Blood Services Board of Directors has selected the following individuals for this prestigious award: 

• Dr. John Bowman, 2002 

• Ms. Marie Cutbush Crookston, 2002 

• Dr. Morris A. Blajchman, 2003 

• Dr. Peter Pinkerton, 2004 

• Dr. John Freedman, 2006 

• Dr. Hans Messner, 2007 

• Mr. Justice Horace Krever, 2008 

• Dr. Gail Rock, 2009 

• Dr. Victor Blanchette, 2010 

• Dr. Allen Eaves and Dr. Connie Eaves, 2011 

• Dr. Celso Bianco, 2012 

• The Canadian Hemophilia Society, 2013 

• Dr. John Dossetor, 2013 

• Dr. Gershon Growe, 2014 

• Dr. Bruce McManus, 2015 

• Dr. David Lillicrap, 2016 

• Nancy Heddle, 2017 

• André Picard, 2018 

  

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2019 Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award

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.

Winning science research writers announced


Friday, April 05, 2019

To give our research trainees an opportunity to showcase their research, while honing their writing skills, Canadian Blood Services teamed-up with Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research, to launch our first-ever Lay Science Writing Competition.


“It’s important for researchers to be able to explain what they do in an engaging and understandable manner to those who don’t work in research. This competition is a great opportunity for trainees to hone their skills in public science communication.”

Dr. Dana Devine

Canadian Blood Services Chief Scientist


Whether it was the chance to be published or the prizes, many trainees responded to the challenge, submitting entries that reflect a breadth of research in blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues. Within the competition theme of “Research that matters”, each entry was to describe the impact of their individual or lab’s research on the transfusion and transplantation system and/or on our society. A jury of professional communicators and scientists was given the challenging task of reviewing and judging the submissions on their writing and storytelling merits, assigning a ranking and selecting the top 3 science research writers.

…and the winners of the 2019 Lay Science Writing Competition are:

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Winners Lay Science Writing Competition 2019

Our sincere congratulations to all!


“The competition provided an excellent opportunity to further develop my communication skills and expand the reach and impact of my research.”

Dr. Jennie Haw,

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Jennie Haw

1st prize winner, CIHR Health Systems Impact fellow and Canadian Blood Services researcher: Dr. Jennie Haw


Over the coming weeks, we’ll share each of the prize-winning entries on the R.E.D blog, so watch this space to learn more about these budding writers and their research.

The 2018 Canadian Blood Services Lay Science Writing Competition was organized by the Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation with welcome support from Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia.


Pathogen Inactivation – A Primer


Friday, March 08, 2019

Tackling the gaps in blood safety

Canadian Blood Services is committed to blood safety because lives depend on it. To reduce the risk of infectious disease transmission from donor to patient, donors are extensively screened for risk factors prior to their donation. Every blood donation is tested for specific infectious disease agents (pathogens) known to be transmissible through blood. These are just some of the many measures Canadian Blood Services employ to keep the blood supply safe.

Despite these safeguards, the risk of infectious disease transmission, though very low, remains. Testing for infectious disease agents is very effective, although even the most sophisticated tests have detection limits. However, the main risks come from unknown agents, for which there are no tests, or from unanticipated infectious agents for which tests are not performed, or from bacterial contamination of platelet components, for which there are tests, but they are imperfect. These testing limitations are currently managed by the multiple layers of safeguards built into the system, but gaps remain. Pathogen inactivation technologies could help to tackle those gaps and make the blood supply even safer.

What are pathogen inactivation technologies?

Pathogen inactivation technologies offer broad-spectrum treatment against potential pathogens (bacteria, viruses and parasites) within blood and blood products. These technologies target and damage nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) in pathogens using ultraviolet (UV) light. DNA and RNA contain genetic information, and when a pathogen’s DNA or RNA is damaged, it prevents the pathogen from reproducing. This effectively destroys a pathogen’s ability to cause illness. As pathogen inactivation treatment attacks all nucleic acids, including those in residual white blood cells found in blood products, it may remove the need for additional treatments of blood products (e.g. irradiation) that are required for certain patient populations.

Altering the blood safety paradigm

Pathogen inactivation technologies potentially fill in the gaps in current blood safety approaches. Rather than focusing on the detection of specific, known pathogens, these technologies focus on inactivating any pathogens that may be present in a blood product. These technologies add a new layer of safety against emerging or unknown pathogens. Pathogen inactivation is often called a paradigm-altering approach because it is a pro-active rather than a re-active approach to blood safety.

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image used in pathogen inactivation primer, part 1 in R.E.D. blog series

Image - The pathogen inactivation process

What pathogen inactivation technologies are available in Canada?

Several technologies have been or are being developed by three major biomedical companies, with some currently being used by blood operators in other countries. However, before a pathogen inactivation technology can be sold in Canada, and used by Canadian Blood Services, it must be licensed by Health Canada. This process takes time.

In 2018, the INTERCEPT technology, sold by Cerus Corporation to treat platelet and plasma components was licensed in Canada. At the time of this blog post, TerumoBCT is in discussions with Health Canada on securing approval for its Mirasol Pathogen Reduction Technology (PRT) in Canada. The THERAFLEX technology, developed by Macopharma for use on platelets and plasma components, is still in development and clinical trial stage.

There is also Octaplas, from OctaPharma, which is a pathogen inactivated plasma product made from large numbers of plasma donations treated with a solvent-detergent process. This was approved by Health Canada in 2005 and Canadian Blood Services currently purchases Octaplas and makes it available for prescribers to order for clinical use. However, rather than being a pathogen inactivation technology that can be used by blood operators in their manufacturing processes, this is a commercially-produced plasma product.

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table used in pathogen inactivation primer, part 1 in R.E.D. blog series

What is Canadian Blood Services doing to prepare for pathogen inactivation technologies in Canada?

Canadian Blood Services has been studying and evaluating pathogen inactivation technologies for some years. In 2007, we held a consensus conference about pathogen inactivation technologies, which at that time were starting to be used in some European countries. More recently, through our Centre for Innovation we have been working to understand how these technologies would work in our manufacturing system, and how they would impact the quality of our blood products and ultimately patient safety. These studies help us to get acquainted with the technologies and their pros and cons before deciding which approach would be best for our system and Canadian patients.

What have we learnt so far?

The results of our studies are in alignment with what is known about pathogen inactivation technologies; overall pathogen inactivation would lead to safer products, but there are some drawbacks. Pathogen inactivation technologies have negative effects on the quality of the treated blood products. However, clinical studies indicate that the negative impact on quality can be managed, and there is evidence that the benefit in terms of reducing any residual risk from pathogens outweighs these negative impacts.

What’s next for pathogen inactivation technologies at Canadian Blood Services?

Research to understand the impact of these technologies on Canadian Blood Services processes and product quality is continuing. The work of the Centre for Innovation will help ensure that pathogen inactivation, or any other new technologies we consider implementing, will bring benefit and allow us to continue to meet the needs of Canadian patients.

Learn more:

Hemostatic efficacy of pathogen-inactivated vs untreated platelets: a randomized controlled trial.

van der Meer PF, Ypma PF, van Geloven N, van Hilten JA, van Wordragen-Vlaswinkel RJ, Eissen O, Zwaginga JJ, Trus M, Beckers EAM, Te Boekhorst P, Tinmouth A, Lin Y, Hsia C, Lee D, Norris PJ, Goodrich RP, Brand A, Hervig T, Heddle NM, van der Bom JG, Kerkhoffs JH.
Blood. 2018 Jul 12;132(2):223-231.

Pathogen Inactivation Strategies to Improve Blood Safety: Let's Not Throw Pathogen-Reduced Platelets Out With Their Bath Water.

Devine DV.

JAMA Oncol. 2018 Apr 1;4(4):458-459.

Implementation of pathogen inactivation technology: how to make the best decisions?

Devine DV.

Transfusion. 2017 May;57(5):1109-1111. doi: 10.1111/trf.14117. No abstract available.

Pathogen Inactivation Technologies: The Advent of Pathogen-Reduced Blood Components to Reduce Blood Safety Risk.

Devine DV, Schubert P.

Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2016 Jun;30(3):609-17. doi: 10.1016/j.hoc.2016.01.005. Review.

Click here for more recent publications from the Centre for Innovation on this topic.

 


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.

D is also for Development!


Friday, February 22, 2019

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2PD

Welcome to our new R.E.D. blog series where we focus on our Centre for Innovation development projects to give you a glimpse into the future of blood banking... our future!

At Canadian Blood Services, we continuously strive to improve our products and the processes we use to manufacture them. Ensuring we provide quality products that meet the needs of Canadian patients, while being good stewards of Canadian health care dollars is core to our mission. One of the players supporting us in this mission is the Centre for Innovation’s Product and Process Development (or 2PD) group.

The 2PD group acts as a bridge between an idea and its implementation, bringing together expertise in fields such as science, engineering, nursing and medical lab technology along with decades of hands-on collection, production, and testing experience. They explore ideas that will lead to change in the products Canadian Blood Services supplies to support patient care, and the technologies and processes we use in our facilities across Canada to produce these products.  

For example, have you ever wondered how Canadian Blood Services evaluates and chooses new equipment for blood product manufacturing? Where we test new technologies and manufacturing processes? What new products may be coming to improve care for Canadian patients? How we reduce the cost of producing our products for the Canadian taxpayer? The 2PD group plays a role in all of these, leveraging the Centre for Innovation development laboratories in Ottawa and Vancouver (the latter often referred to as the netCAD Blood4Research Facility).  

The role of the 2PD group is essentially to generate data about our products and the processes used to manufacture them, providing evidence to help make informed decisions, seek regulatory approvals and confidently and successfully implement change. 

So, what kinds of technologies and manufacturing processes might we be using in five years? What will our blood products inventory of the future look like? In this blog series, we’ll give you insight into the work of the 2PD group, their collaborations with supply chain and other divisions, and a glimpse into the exciting future of blood banking here at Canadian Blood Services.

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.

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.

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.

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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