Introducing pathogen-reduced platelets

Thursday, March 24, 2022 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

What is pathogen inactivation? 

Canadian Blood Services’ commitment to blood safety is paramount, which is why many measures are in place to protect transfusion recipients from getting an infection through a blood transfusion. Pathogen inactivation, the latest measure being introduced at Canadian Blood Services, adds an extra layer of protection. By effectively damaging the nucleic acids of a number of pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, pathogen inactivation further reduces the risk of pathogen transmission—an especially important safeguard against new or emerging pathogens, or pathogens for which tests are not available.  

In December 2021, Health Canada approved the use of Cerus INTERCEPT™ Pathogen Inactivation Technology to produce pathogen-reduced pooled platelet components at Canadian Blood Services. This approval paved the way for Canadian Blood Services to manufacture its first pathogen-inactivated blood component: pathogen-reduced platelets. 

Supported by development work 

Years of collaborative teamwork was needed to introduce pathogen-reduced platelets in some Canadian hospitals. Researchers and development scientists at Canadian Blood Services have been evaluating pathogen inactivation technologies, including their potential impact on blood components, for several years. The product and process development group from Innovation and Portfolio Management at Canadian Blood Services led efforts to optimize a process for producing a pooled platelet component that meets the requirements of the INTERCEPT pathogen inactivation system and provide assurance that the treated product would meet quality control requirements. Finally, supply chain tested and validated the manufacturing process in 2021. 

Introducing pathogen-reduced platelets at our Ottawa production site 

In January 2022, Canadian Blood Services launched pathogen-reduced platelets, also known as pooled platelets psoralen-treated (PPPT). PPPT is now available to hospitals served by our Ottawa production site. Ultimately, Canadian Blood Services intends to make PPPT available at other locations and introduce pathogen-reduced technology for other blood components. 

A new resource for health-care professionals 

A new resource about PPPT for health care professionals is now available on Canadian Blood Services’ professional education website. The publication, Pathogen-reduced buffy coat platelets, provides information about the technology used to inactivate pathogens, the process of PPPT production, and a comparison of PPPT to untreated platelets, in terms of product characteristics, benefits and drawbacks.  

Want to learn more? 

Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact.

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.


Related blog posts

Friday, March 08, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

This primer is part I of our new series exploring the future of blood banking. Given that D is also for Development: Canadian Blood Services and the Centre for Innovation have been following the development of pathogen inactivation technologies and how they can be used to improve safety. Read-on to learn more about these technologies and their potential to shift the blood safety paradigm.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The latest Centre for Innovation annual progress report is now available on It describes the highlights of Canadian Blood Services’ research and education network during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Jenny Ryan

Dr. Sheila O’Brien knows the answer. She is the associate director, epidemiology and surveillance, working at Canadian Blood Services head office in Ottawa. Understanding and minimizing the infectious risks associated with blood transfusion is what she does each and every day.