BARDA, Cerus Corporation to test capabilities to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in blood

The Cerus Corporation has created the INTERCEPT Blood System as a means to reduce pathogens in red blood cells, and now, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is collaborating with it to test the system’s capabilities against SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19, a coronavirus that has caused a worldwide pandemic. To date, no one is certain if COVID-19 can be transmitted through blood transfusions — something that could threaten the United States blood supply — but BARDA wants to have a system in place in the event that proves to be true. As a result, it turned to Cerus, expanding an existing partnership.

As part of this partnership, BARDA will evaluate the INTERCEPT Blood System platform’s capability to inactivate SARS-CoV-2. BARDA had previously invested in the system during 2016 when fears of the Zika virus prompted creative solutions.

The INTERCEPT System is already approved for platelets and plasma. It uses amotosalen, a photoactive compound that targets DNA and RNA, along with UVA illumination to cross-link nucleic acids. This blocks the replication abilities of various viruses, bacteria, and parasites, which renders them inactive. A system capable of working with red blood cells is still in development.

Chris Galford

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