New Data Show That Intercept Blood System Inactivates Virus in Same Viral Family as SARS

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Preliminary test results demonstrate that pathogen inactivation technology is effective against the human coronavirus

Subsidiaries of Baxter International Inc. and Cerus Corporation announce preliminary test results demonstrating that the INTERCEPT Blood System for platelets inactivates one of the human strains of coronavirus, a representative member of the viral family that includes the causative agent of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The preliminary results demonstrate that this new blood safety technology is capable of inactivating coronavirus in blood products.

Currently, SARS has infected almost 8.000 people worldwide and has a mortality rate of 15 percent and up to 50 percent in elderly patients. This coronavirus has been detected in the blood of infected patients during the acute phase of the illness, and it is therefore suspected that the virus is transmissible through blood. The current strategies in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through blood transfusions include a worldwide donor deferral program instituted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and research surrounding test development to enable screening and detection.

The in-vitro study measured the inactivation level of the INTERCEPT Blood System against a lipid-enveloped, single-stranded RNA virus of the coronavirus family. The 229E strain of coronavirus, an isolate that causes respiratory illness in humans, was used in this study. Following the inactivation procedure, the solution was tested for residual viable virus. Results of this preliminary study show that the virus was inactivated below the limit of detection in the assay system used (i.e., no viable virus was detected after treatment). Cerus and Baxter are pursuing options for collaborative studies to demonstrate inactivation of the SARS agent.

"Emerging and migrating pathogens present a threat to the safety of the blood supply," said Stephen T. Isaacs, president and chief executive officer of Cerus. "Blood tests have been developed only when new disease-causing agents are accurately identified and determined to be transmitted via blood transfusions. By contrast, the INTERCEPT Blood System is a prospective approach to blood safety that can inactivate pathogens and offer protection long before a test can be developed."

According to Josef Selinger, president of Baxter Transfusion Therapies Europe, "The INTERCEPT Blood System's mechanism of action confers a broad spectrum of activity and has been developed to inactivate both known and emerging pathogens. The proactive technology offers an added level of security and the potential to protect the blood supply from pathogens, such as coronavirus, West Nile Virus, and malaria. Unlike the tests used to detect pathogens in blood, the INTERCEPT Blood System does not have to be modified according to the specifics of a particular virus, bacteria or parasite."

The INTERCEPT Blood System for platelets has received European regulatory approval and has been implemented in several blood centers throughout Europe. Clinical trials are underway for use of the INTERCEPT Blood System with plasma and red blood cells for transfusion.

Source: Cerus Corporation and Baxter International Inc