Blood Safety for Africa

An Opportunity to Help

Although the resource-constrained African region does not represent a significant commercial opportunity, it certainly represents a human opportunity. It is also an opportunity for Cerus to share its depth of experience and expertise in pathogen inactivation with African communities.  Cerus, together with the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and their Blood Transfusion Center (CTS), and the Transfusion Service of the Swiss Red Cross (Transfusion CRS Suisse), is committed to helping make pathogen inactivation a reality in Africa, by exploring ways to adapt the INTERCEPT Blood System (S-303) for Red Cells, for use in whole blood.

The Need for Safe Blood in Africa
  • The majority of blood transfusions in Africa are provided to pregnant women and to children, with children receiving more than any other patient group.

  • Only ~40% of the demand for transfusions
    is currently being met in Africa.

  • >500,000 maternal deaths occur each year worldwide, the majority of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, where postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of
    maternal death.

  • Transfusion-transmitted infections are prevalent in local African blood donors, contributing to transmission-related infections to patients and restrictions and shortages for blood supply.


Securing Transfusion Safety Around the Globe

In developed countries, patients receive transfusions of individual blood components, either platelets, plasma or red blood cells, or a combination of these components. Cerus’ INTERCEPT Blood System for pathogen inactivation is currently being used to treat platelets and plasma to reduce the risk of transfusion-related infections.  The company’s program for red blood cells, which is currently in clinical development, is designed to complete the pathogen inactivation capability for all three blood components regularly transfused in the developed world.

But geographies like Africa present a very different challenge in transfusion medicine: namely, given the lack of appropriate resources and technology, whole blood transfusion– as opposed to blood components - is most frequently used to treat patients.  Africa in particular is also faced with additional challenges to its blood supply, including shortages in available blood and elevated risks of transfusion-transmitted infections. These blood supply challenges can have devastating tolls on human health.


Stay tuned to this web page as Cerus and partners report on the progress of this collaboration.

March 26, 2014: Partnership to Initiate Development of Whole Blood Pathogen Inactivation for Sub Saharan Africa
Read the press release

Jan 15, 2013: Cerus and the University Hospital of Geneva presented data for pathogen inactivation of whole blood at the Global Maternal Health Conference (GMHC) in Arusha, Tanzania
    • Poster: Whole Blood pathogen Inactivation to Improve Blood Safety (download poster)


July 7, 2012: Cerus presented data for pathogen inactivation of whole blood during the poster sessions at the 32nd International Congress of the ISBT in Cancun, Mexico.
    • P-216: Frangible Anchor Effector Linker Compounds Structure Optimization for Pathogen Inactivation in Whole Blood (download poster)
    • P-229: Whole Blood Pathogen Inactivation and Storage Using the S-303 Treatment System (download poster)

April 30, 2012: Cerus, the University Hospitals of Geneva, and the Transfusion Service of the Swiss Red Cross Intend to Collaborate on Whole Blood Pathogen Inactivation for Africa
Read the Press Release

Other Resources

Blood Transfusion Safety in Africa: A Literature Review of Infectious Disease and Organizational Challenges
Bloch EM, Vermeulen M, & Murphy E
Transfusion Medicine Reviews, 2012 Apr;26:164-80
doi: 10.1016/j.tmrv.2011.07.006
Read the abstract

Association between Anaemia during Pregnancy and Blood Loss at and after Delivery among Women with Vaginal Births in Pemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Kavle JA, Stoltzfus RJ, Witter F, et al.
J Health Popul Nutr, 2008 June;26(2):232–240.
Read the abstract & paper

Status of Blood Safety in the WHO African Region: Report of the 2006 Survey
Topko JB, Mainuka P, & Diarra-Nama AJ
World Health Organization
Read the report


The University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and Blood Transfusion Center (CTS)
 The Transfusion Service of the Swiss Red Cross (Blutspende SRK Schwietz)
 Cerus Corporation

Interested in contributing to this collaboration? Please contact us for further details.

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