In October, at the annual scientific sessions of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), held in Boston, initial results of Imugen’s new investigational blood tests to screen blood donors for Babesiosis were presented.
At several podium presentations, data from the Imugen studies were summarized. Some study findings were presented by Susan Stramer, PhD, current president of the AABB and executive scientific officer at the American Red Cross; Erin Moritz, MS, PhD, of the American Red Cross; and Philip Molloy, MD, Medical Director for Imugen.
Approximately 20,000 blood donors had been tested for Babesia microti parasites at the time of the 2012 AABB meeting, by nucleic acid tests and also by a new serologic test method. Infecting red blood cells, Babesia organisms are typically transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected deer tick.
The clinical presentation of Babesiosis is variable.
Individuals may be asymptomatic, and as blood donors, could unknowingly transmit the organism to patients by blood transfusions. In the United States, the most common infectious disease transmitted by blood is currently Babesiosis.
On the incidence and prevalence of Babesia in blood donations, Imugen and the American Red Cross are conducting studies and are following up on patients who have received blood transfusions with potentially infectious units.
The efficacy of these newly developed tests is also being evaluated.
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The laboratory studies have focused on blood donors from moderately endemic and traditionally non-endemic areas within the United States, as well as those who reside in areas highly endemic for Babesiosis (northeastern region of the U.S.)
Memorial Blood Centers of Minnesota and the Rhode Island Blood Center are additional institutions participating in the research, with data presented by Jed Gorlin, MD and Carolyn Young, MD, respectively.
As a result of this testing, 69 blood units were removed from the blood supply as being potentially infectious for Babesia.
Edited by Braden Becker