Aphios Develops Virus Clearance Technology for Red Blood Cells with Phase I SBIR Contract
December 14, 2012
Woburn, Mass. – Aphios Corporation is developing a unique "Chemiluminescence Photodynamic Virus Inactivation Technology for Red Blood Cells" with a Phase I SBIR contract from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Red blood cell concentrates (RBCCs) are the main components of blood used in transfusion medicine, yet currently there are no FDA approved methods for broad spectrum pathogen inactivation for RBCCs; instead, the risk of transfusion-associated pathogen transmission is reduced by screening the transfused blood for specific pathogens. Solvent-detergent method, currently approved by the FDA for plasma, is active against only enveloped viruses and cannot be used for RBCCs since the RBCCs have a functional plasma membrane. The use of photodynamic compounds such as psoralens and methylene blue in conjunction with UV light is approved for plasma and platelets in several European countries but the lack of transparency of RBCCs to UV light poses special challenges to successful and consistent pathogen inactivation in that system.

"Aphios is developing the use of photodynamic substances for pathogen inactivation by combining them with chemiluminescent compounds that generate light in situ, thereby overcoming the opacity of erythrocytes to UV light. Work performed and patented at Aphios Corporation as well as previous publications have shown the feasibility of viral inactivation by photodynamic compounds in conjunction with chemiluminescence," explains Dr. Jay Jayarama, Director, Virology, Aphios Corporation. "By generating the light in situ, we expect that a significant proportion of the generated light reaches the target pathogen within the red blood cell matrix before it is absorbed by the RBCCs. The objective of our research is to identify chemiluminescent compounds that will generate enough light locally to cause effective inactivation of pathogens in the presence of photodynamic compounds."

Assuring safety of the blood components continues to be an important element of transfusion medicine. Over the last few decades there have been significant improvements in the screening of donors and donated blood so that the risk of infection transmission is considered low. Currently, screening of various kinds of viruses and viral antigens to reduce the risk of transmission is performed for HBV, HIV, HCV, HTLV, WNV, T. cruzi, CMV and bacteria (for platelets only). However, the risk of infection transmission continues to exist since the screening is not performed for a number of potential pathogens such as HAV, B-19V, Dengue fever virus, and several protozoan and bacterial diseases. Moreover, there is the risk of emerging infectious agents and potential bioterrorism pathogens for which there will always be a lag between the identification of the potential threat and the development of screening methods. Hence, there is a need for a safe and effective pathogen inactivation procedure to assure a blood supply free from infectious agents. The worldwide RBCC market is estimated to be $40 billion annually.

Dr. Trevor P. Castor, President and CEO, Aphios Corporation states, "Aphios is seeking a strategic corporate partner with which to complete the development of this unique technology that is vital to the safety and preservation of red blood cells, which are critical in surgical operations and transfusion medicine."

Aphios® Corporation is a clinical stage biotechnology company developing green, enabling technology platforms for improved drug discovery and manufacturing, nanotechnology drug delivery and pathogenic drug safety. Based on these platforms, Aphios is developing enhanced therapeutic products for health maintenance, disease prevention and the treatment of certain cancers, infectious diseases and central nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimer's Disease. The project described is supported by Contract Number HHSN268201100034C from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NHLBI or the NIH.