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Canadian Blood Services scientist invents potential alternative for high-demand blood product

Toronto, ON Patients suffering from a life-threatening bleeding disorder are closer to having access to a more effective treatment. Alan Lazarus, Canadian Blood Services scientist and adjunct scientist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, is deciphering how a blood-derived product called IVIg (intravenous immunoglobulin) currently works, and as a result has developed a synthetic replacement product that shows promise in laboratory testing. This synthetic could be the stepping stone to replacing IVIg which is used to treat a variety of conditions, including ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), a disease that can cause uncontrolled bleeding, and sometimes even death.

As will be published in the June edition of the scientific journal Nature Medicine, Lazarus' research team has made great strides in determining how IVIg works, a major milestone in the study of this product. They have also found evidence that a synthetic replacement for IVIg could be developed that would not only be cheaper and easier to produce in mass quantities, but could also lead to more effective treatments for patients. Lazarus says, "this work unravels some of the mystery surrounding how IVIg functions in patients with ITP, and will allow us to develop new and more powerful therapeutics in the future. In addition, this discovery should allow for a more consistent product with less side-effects than the IVIg currently in use." ITP is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to send signals to the spleen to remove platelets from the body. Many patients with ITP rely on frequent transfusions of IVIg in order to prevent bleeding. "Patients suffering with ITP require IVIg to prevent or control bleeding, but we don't know how it works. Dr. Lazarus' research finding brings us one step closer to understanding how we can develop better treatments for these patients, and how best to use this treatment in patients with other autoimmune disorders, not only ITP," says Dr.
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Contact: Shannon O'Brien
shannon.o'brien@bloodservices.ca
613-739-2442
Canadian Blood Services
23-May-2006


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