Pathogen Safety

a group of red and blue cells.

PPTA and its member companies adhere rigorously to international regulatory requirements and industry voluntary standards through PPTA's IQPP and QSEAL programs to ensure that patients have access to safe state-of-the-art therapies for the treatment of often life-threatening diseases.

The overarching concept of pathogen safety depends on safeguard measures, which are mainly focused on virus contamination, to ensure that only plasma from healthy donors is entering the manufacturing process. These measures constitute a "Safety Tripod" and include:

  • Selection of Starting material: Donor screening/Donor exclusion
  • Testing for pathogens
  • Elimination of pathogens

Testing for pathogens is performed by Nucleic Acid Amplification (NAT) assays and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests for relevant viruses, such as Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV), Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and Parvovirus B19. Further testing of the manufacturing pool by NAT ensures that only plasma suitable for manufacture enters the fractionation process.

The fractionation process itself includes multiple dedicated steps of pathogen removal/inactivation. These steps are designed to deal with much higher levels of virus contamination than would be encountered from any potential viral load from a donation from an infected donor with low levels of undetected viremia in case such a donation would enter the fractionation process.

Pathogen safety measures are not limited to safeguard against known pathogens, but are also aimed to prevent transmission of new and yet unknown pathogens. For example, when the virus causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) emerged, PPTA member companies performed individual studies that demonstrated the efficiency of their virus inactivation/removal steps for the SARS virus. With the appearance of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) manufacturers were faced with a unique challenge, because the causative agent is not a virus but a misfolded protein. PPTA member companies invested and continue to invest significantly in research and development to implement appropriate measures to protect against the potential transmission of vCJD causing prion proteins through plasma protein therapies.

Following the recent outbreak of the Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas PPTA’s Pathogen Safety Steering Committee (PSSC) released a statement confirming that based on their research with similar viruses and ZIKV models, plasma protein therapies are safe. PPTA member companies are currently performing individual studies with ZIKV.

Responding to known and unknown challenges to the safety of plasma protein therapies requires continuous research to develop methods for both the detection of pathogens as well as methods for the elimination of pathogens that could possibly enter the manufacturing process. PPTA's member companies continue to demonstrate leadership and innovation that protect patients and donors through state-of-the-art collection procedures and viral inactivation and manufacturing protocols that have been fine-tuned over decades.

The PSSC is the globally accepted industry expert group on issues related to the safety of plasma protein therapies. PSSC is recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a valuable contributor within relevant expert groups.

Pathogen Safety