Pathogen inactivation is a proactive approach to making the blood supply safer. Periodically, the international transfusion medicine community gathers to discuss issues of pressing concern. Such a consensus conference solely devoted to pathogen inactivation was held in Toronto Canada in the spring of 2007. More than 200 leaders in the international blood banking community attended the conference.
The conference was hosted to examine the available data on pathogen inactivation and to provide a forum to discuss when or if to implement pathogen inactivation technologies. Presentations and discussions were based on:
- Implementation criteria
- Licensing requirements
- Blood service and clinical issues
- Risk management issues
- Cost benefit impact
- Research requirements
At the conclusion of the meeting, the conference panel recommended broad implementation of pathogen inactivation. The panel’s conclusion was based on the recognition that new pathogens will continue to threaten the blood supply, and that this threat cannot be addressed simply through a reactive strategy of surveillance, screening and testing. Also, the panel concluded that conventional bacterial testing does not adequately protect the blood supply. The emergence of new pathogens can lead to pandemics, which in turn threaten to shut down the blood supply. In addition, the panel stressed the need for a paradigm shift to take proactive measures to reinforce the public’s confidence in the safety of the blood supply.