Scientists do not yet know if SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be transmitted by blood transfusion.
But in a new study, researchers used existing technologies to show that exposing the coronavirus to riboflavin (vitamin B2) and ultraviolet light reduces pathogens in human plasma and whole-blood products.
The research was conducted by a team at Colorado State University.
In the study, the team tackled one of the big questions about the novel coronavirus: If the pathogen can spread through blood or by donating blood, would it be possible to kill the virus?
The research they conducted answers that question: yes, you can. They eliminated a huge amount of virus and we could not detect the virus post-treatment.
The research team used the Mirasol Pathogen Reduction Technology System to treat nine plasma and three whole-blood products for the study.
The blood product or plasma is placed in a specially designed storage bag, riboflavin solution is added, and the mixture is then exposed to UV light.
The Mirasol PRT 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 researchers caution that this is not an experiment to try at home. The light does not penetrate the entire bag, so it’s not the same as exposing body parts to UV light.
They said the research may help to 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, the Mirasol system is currently only approved for use outside of the United States, mainly in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
The researchers are currently studying whether SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted by blood. Ragan said they hope to answer that question very soon.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Izabela Ragan, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at CSU.
The study is published in PLOS ONE.
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