Scientists make way to reduce coronavirus in blood

Scientists develop method to reduce coronavirus count in plasma, blood products

The device gently shakes the bag to circulate the blood cells, so the cells come to the surface where they are exposed to the UV light, the study noted. (Credit: Reuters Photo)

Researchers have demonstrated that exposing the novel coronavirus to the vitamin riboflavin and ultraviolet light reduces the viral count in human plasma and whole-blood products, an advance that may help lower the possibility of transmission of the virus via blood transfusion.

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The scientists from Colorado State University (CSU) in the US, said it is still unknown if the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, behind the COVID-19 pandemic, can be transmitted by blood transfusion.

In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, they used a device called the Mirasol Pathogen Reduction Technology System to treat nine plasma and three whole-blood products.

"We eliminated a huge amount of virus and we could not detect the virus post-treatment," said Izabela Ragan, study co-author from CSU.

The device, invented by Ray Goodrich, senior author of the study from CSU, works by exposing the blood product or plasma to UV light.

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Heather Pidcoke, another co-author on the study, explained that the blood product or plasma is placed in a specially designed storage bag, following which riboflavin solution is added to this, and the mixture is then exposed to UV light.

The device gently shakes the bag to circulate the blood cells, so the cells come to the surface where they are exposed to the UV light, the study noted.

However, the authors caution that this is not an experiment to try at home.

They said the light does not penetrate the entire bag, so it's not the same as exposing body parts to UV light.

The researchers said the device may help avoid what happened in the 1980s, when HIV was transmitted through blood and blood products while scientists were still trying to isolate and identify what might be causing the spread of the virus.

However, Goodrich noted that the Mirasol system is currently only approved for use outside of the US, mainly in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"Our research may help inform people outside the US who are using it," he said.

"They may breathe a sigh of relief knowing that while we continue to study this, there is some potential mitigation in place just in case," Goodrich added.

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