Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Dr. Geraldine Walsh is a scientific writer with the Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation. A PhD scientist with a passion for communication, Geraldine supports Canadian Blood Services’ research and development scientists with writing, editing and preparing manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Geraldine was captivated by the fascinating topic of blood during her graduate studies at The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (in Dublin, her hometown). During her PhD, she studied blood platelets, the little cell fragments that maintain the delicate balance between clotting and bleeding in our bodies. Today, her role as scientific writer allows her to combine a love of science with a love of writing and a real dedication to quality science communication.

Highlights from the Canadian transfusion community’s annual conference


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Calgary, Alberta, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, played host to this year’s Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine (CSTM)/Canadian Blood Services/Héma-Québec annual conference. Canadian Blood Services is proud to be a key partner in this conference, which represents the major gathering of Canada’s transfusion medicine and science community each year. Many Centre for Innovation members attend the CSTM conference to network and exchange knowledge with colleagues across Canada. The Centre for Innovation also holds its annual Research Day in the same place and around the same time as the CSTM annual conference each year. I had the opportunity to attend both events and share my highlights here. 

Looking to the future: Centre for Innovation annual Research Day 

On May 29, the extended Canadian Blood Services research network got together to hear the latest developments and discoveries supported by the Centre for Innovation. The Centre for Innovation’s 2019 Research Day looked to the future. A series of talks described work the Centre for Innovation is conducting on “Blood Products of the Future”, which includes research to characterize cold-stored platelets – a transfusion product being explored for use in patients requiring massive transfusion – and to prepare for pathogen inactivation technologies. The “Scientists of the Future” session was an opportunity for Centre for Innovation-affiliated research trainees to give two-minute talks about their research. There were also sessions on new technologies, and advances in the areas of donor and clinical research. Dr. Paul Kubes, an invited speaker from the University of Calgary, gave an excellent talk about his research using advanced microscopy to image platelets in the body – studies that reveal fascinating details about the behaviour of these cell fragments in the body. 

Canadian Blood Services chief scientist Dr. Dana Devine led a discussion of the role of research in “Transfusion Medicine of the Future”. Touching on topics as diverse as the impact of new technologies, products and changing patient needs, to the system-wide challenges that may emerge as a result of climate change, this engaging discussion took full advantage of having a large portion of our usually dispersed research network in the same room.  

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Group photo of scientists and trainees
Centre for Innovation Research Day brought together more than 50 members of our internal and external research network.

CSTM 2019: Transfusing wisely 

The CSTM annual conference began the next day. It brings together nurses, physicians, technologists and others involved in transfusion medicine to share information, learn about the most recent developments in the field and appreciate one another’s contributions to providing effective transfusion therapy. Congratulations to all presenters from Canadian Blood Services – with 16 presentations at the conference’s workshops or oral sessions, and 39 poster presentations, Canadian Blood Services’ participation in the program was high as always.  

MSM Research 

For me, a stand-out session was “Changing Donor Management – MSM and Transgender Considerations”. In this session, some eagerly-awaited but still preliminary results from two projects funded by the MSM Research Program were presented. Mike Morrison,  an award-winning writer and entertainment and lifestyle blogger from Calgary, gave an excellent presentation in which he showed the human side of the MSM deferral policy and its impacts. 

Research highlights 

I enjoyed two sessions that highlighted the latest research being conducted by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec: the “Research Highlights” session and the “Selected Oral Abstracts – Scientific” session. During these we heard about cutting edge research linking viruses and viral infectivity to clotting, new technologies that deepen understanding of blood products, including microfluidics devices to analyze red blood cells and a new type of analyzer for white blood cells. We learned about exciting research to develop monoclonal antibodies as alternative therapies that may someday replace IVIg. There were also talks about the application of research to address issues related to donor health, including iron deficiency anemia. 

A tale of two Canadas 

A final highlight was the session “Transfusion Considerations in the Indigenous Populations and Remote Locations.” This featured three presentations. Jennifer G. Daley Bernier, who has worked in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories for over a decade, described transfusion medicine challenges in Northern Canada. Ann Wilson described transfusion services in Northern Quebec. Darlene Richter and health worker Deanna Twoyoungmen provided the perspectives of Stoney First Nations towards medicine and laboratory procedures. Together these presentations highlighted the many unique challenges to the provision of medical services in northern Canada and to Indigenous people.  

While issues related to geography, weather and dispersed populations abound, it was eye-opening to learn about other perhaps less obvious issues. Communication can be a barrier. For example, there are 11 official languages in the Northwest Territories. To have a system accessible to all, hospital signage and information must be translated into all languages. Many challenges related to the effects of colonization remain. In transfusion medicine, medical histories are critical, but it can be difficult or impossible to get accurate medical histories from people who for various reasons may not have full knowledge of their medical past or who do not trust the medical system. Acknowledging cultural and socio-economic differences and adapting can help ensure everyone in Canada has access to the best care possible. 

These are a few of my highlights. The CSTM conference runs parallel sessions, so it’s impossible to cover everything! Did you attend CSTM 2019 in Calgary? Please comment below to let us know your highlights! 

 

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Button that reads We are the science behind the medicine

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: Effectively communicating “Research that matters!”


Thursday, July 04, 2019

Highlighting a recent blog post from Science Borealis, this “stories worth sharing” post gives background on the welcome support the Centre for Innovation’s 2018 Lay Science Writing Competition received from two key partners. 

The Centre for Blood Research (CBR) and the Centre for Innovation have a long-standing relationship. We partner regularly to deliver training and education events. The CBR helped to develop the competition and promoted it to their large network of trainees, support that helped guarantee that this inaugural competition ran smoothly and successfully.  

The Centre for Innovation also looked to Science Borealis, Canada’s leading national community of science writers and communicators, to lend their expertise as science communicators and champions of science communication in Canada. It was a pleasure to receive support from Science Borealis, and to work with Lené Gary, its general sciences editor, who supported the competition process.  

To learn more, read Gary's post about the competition, originally published on the Borealis Blog in June 2019.


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.

Canadian Blood Services’ scientist recognized for his mentorship of graduate students


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Congratulations to Canadian Blood Services' Dr. Jason Acker, who was awarded the University of Alberta Graduate Students’ Association Graduate Student Supervisor Award at a ceremony on March 22, 2019. This award recognizes "those faculty members who excel in the supervision of graduate students”. What makes this award even more special – Dr. Acker was nominated by one of his graduate students, Ruqayyah Almizraq. We chatted to Dr. Acker to learn more.

Dr. Jason Acker
Dr. Jason Acker and Ruqayyah Almizraq at the University of Alberta Graduate Students’ Association award ceremony

 

Q: Tell us more about this award?

"I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to mentor and work alongside an outstanding group of graduate students over the past 17 years that I’ve been at the University. While the GSA Graduate Student Supervisor Award is intended to recognize faculty who excel in the supervision of graduate students, I think this award really recognizes the environment that we create to allow students to explore and grow as researchers. At Canadian Blood Services we have been very intentional in providing our scientists and clinicians with the resources and tools to create a supportive environment for our trainees to excel in transfusion science research. This award is a testament to our pursuit of excellence in training the next generation of transfusion scientists.”

Q: What makes this award so special for you?

“I am particularly humbled by this event as it was a student-nominated award presented by the Graduate Students’ Association which I received. To be nominated by the graduate program would have been great, but to be nominated and selected by the students is extra special!

I do not see myself as the wise man sitting on the mountain and the students as the seekers of knowledge or wisdom. I see myself as the experienced tour guide who has been fortunate to have traveled many of the back roads and trails of an interesting scientific discipline. While I may be worldly in my travels, I am not the world’s traveler and as such I do not have all of the answers nor have I come to my final destination. I enjoy traveling together with my students as I am a learner too!"


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: Blood clotting factor or clot buster?


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Brought to you in partnership with the Centre for Blood Research, this week's Stories worth sharing is focused on research into a new class of anticoagulants.

Anticoagulants, or blood thinners, are medicines used to treat patients who experience unwanted or excess blood clotting. Between clotting and bleeding, there exists a delicate balance. If blood cannot clot effectively, the risk of bleeding increases. If blood clots too easily, there is a risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious conditions. 

Recent research being undertaken in Dr. Ed Pryzdial’s laboratory at the University of British Columbia is studying how some of these newer drugs affect the balance between clotting and bleeding.  The anticoagulants being studied are known to specifically target and inhibit a clotting factor called Factor Xa, as well as to decrease the formation of blood clots. 

While Factor Xa’s role in forming clots is well-known, its role in busting clots is much less well-established. In the Pryzdial laboratory they’ve found an additional way in which these drugs may help patients with too much clotting, by enhancing “clot-busting”. The process of clot busting (i.e., dissolving a clot once bleeding has been stopped), is an important way of managing clotting and associated risks. This work sheds light on how factor Xa will enhance clot busting—knowledge, which could be used to design more effective anticoagulant drugs in the future.

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Stories

Dr. Pryzdial is a Canadian Blood Services scientist and associate director of the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia. To learn more, read the original blog post by Tseday Tegegn, a PhD student in the Pryzdial Laboratory on the Centre for Blood Research website.


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

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.


50 ways to learn more about Centre for Innovation supported research


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Nothing in science has any value to society if it is not communicated

Anne Roe, The Making of a Scientist (1953)


Much of the work supported by the Centre for Innovation is published as articles in scientific and medical journals. These journal articles are designed to be read and understood by other experts, so it can be challenging for anyone who is not familiar with the subject to glean valuable information. To bridge this gap and help make our research findings more accessible, the “Research Units” were developed.

How do Research Units help make the findings published in a scientific journal more accessible?

For a start Research Units are shorter. But they also provide a concise summary of the most important aspects of a study, asking: “What is this research about?”; “What did the researchers do?”; “What did the researchers find?”; and perhaps most importantly, “How can you use this research?”. Research Units provide details about the research team and information about the original journal article for the reader that wants to learn more. Scientific jargon, often a barrier to non-expert readers, is removed or clearly explained.

Fifty Research Units and counting

The first Research Unit was published in March 2013 and described a study by Centre for Innovation Engineer, Dr. John Blake, to understand how changes to blood manufacturing and distribution services would impact availability of blood products at hospitals. Dr. Blake’s work is also the subject of our 50th Research Unit, which was published just recently. This latest Research Unit, “One in a million: Modelling rare blood flow” describes a recent study with Canadian Blood Services associate medical director, Dr. Gwen Clarke, to help meet the needs of Canadians with rare blood. Drs. Blake and Clarke analyzed supply and demand for rare blood types and used simulation modelling to understand how to optimize the blood operator’s inventory of rare blood types to meet demand. The study showed that keeping a modest inventory of frozen rare blood types, combined with increased screening of donors for rare blood types, provides the greatest chance of ensuring that Canadian patients with rare blood have access to red blood cell transfusions when they need them. To learn more, read the full Research Unit here.

 

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

A milestone and a makeover

To coincide with this milestone, we gave the downloadable (PDF) format of the Research Units a makeover! The new look Research Unit is clean, fresh and aligns with our renewed Canadian Blood Services brand.

Visit our Research Units page to explore the diversity of the Centre for Innovation's work, and discover which of the 50 summaries pique your interest.

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.

Research Unit: Modelling risk to ensure safety when considering changes to blood testing


Thursday, February 28, 2019

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At Canadian Blood Services, blood safety is paramount. Screening donors for infectious diseases is an important part of our multi-layered approach to blood safety. One such infectious agent that is known to be transmitted through blood transfusion is Human T-cell lymphotropic viruses (or HTLV). Since 1990, all blood donations in Canada have been tested for HTLV, and since then, there have been no identified cases of HTLV transmission by transfusion. The rate of HTLV in Canadian blood donors has not changed in over 20 years of monitoring, and most donations that test positive for HTLV are from first-time donors.

Changes to our blood product manufacturing processes since the 1990s means there may be limited benefit to continuing to test all donations for HTLV. This month’s Research Unit describes a collaborative effort by researchers from the Canadian Blood Services Centre for Innovation and Héma Québec. The researchers wished to understand how the risk of transfusion-transmission of HTLV would change if the screening were modified from the current approach, in which all donations are tested for HTLV, to an alternative approach in which only first-time donors are tested for HTLV. To do this, they used a simulation/modelling study. This modeling study suggests that moving from testing all donations for the virus HTLV, to testing only first-time donors, would have a negligible impact on risk to recipients.

To learn more, read our Research unit here.

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.

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.

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.