Writing January 21, 2006 in the journal Lancet, hematologist Jamie Siegel, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Christopher A Ludlam, professor of haematology and coagulation medicine at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, and colleagues say that coagulation-factor concentrates (CFC) from the blood plasma, used for individuals with bleeding disorders, are now deemed safe from most known infectious agents, such as hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV, in contrast to two decades ago. But challenges from new agents mean plasma-derived products will continue to remain at risk.
The authors point out that an alternative recombinant products, which are made by expressing genes for clotting factors in the laboratory tissue culture dish lessen the likelihood of contamination by infectious agents.
"There will always be emerging pathogens and we won't always know what they are," says Dr. Siegel, who is director of the Hemophilia Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. "We know that these pathogens may be in the blood supply, and if we have a population dependent on plasma derived products, they are always at risk."
She contends that infectious agents called prions, which are behind diseases such as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ("Mad Cow disease"), may be the most worrisome of all because they are difficult to detect. She is concerned about them affecting mostly young children, and their effects decades later. "We don't know if we can get rid of prions," she says. "Currently, there i