Finding new value in waste biological products

Canadian Blood Service works with manufacturers and nonprofits to expand Factor VIII supplies to the developing world

Factor VII is a primary treatment for hemophilia, the blood-clotting disorder. In years past, the treatment was concentrated from an extract of blood plasma (itself a product) called cryoprecipitate; today, most is produced via cell culturing that doesn’t involve cryoprecipitate. For the Canadian Blood Service (CBS), that means that most cryoprecipitate is discarded. Now, in an agreement worked out between CBS, the Canadian Hemophilia Society, the World Hemophilia Society (WHS), and two blood-products manufacturers—Grifoils and Biotest AG—to use the waste cryoprecipitate to generate more Factor VIII that will be used in the developing world, where the product is not readily available.

Called Project Recovery, the agreement has CBS donating the cryoprecipitate to Grifoils, which will process it in the US, then transfer it to Biotest in Germany. Biotest produces a branded product, Haemoctin—a Factor VIII concentrate—from cryoprecipitate. Biotest will retain half of the Haemoctin to cover its and Grifoil’s costs, and deliver the rest to locations designated by the WHS. Both the cryoprecipitate starting material and the Haemoctin final product require cold chain storage and shipping, and WHS will ensure that the product can be transported and stored safely.

About 5 million International Units of the treatment will be donated. According to David Page, executive director at CHS, that translates into about 5,000 treatments for adults, or multiples of that for children or infants. One or two treatments are usually necessary for bouts of joint hemorrhage in hemophiliacs.

According to Mark Brooker, a senior officer at WHS, Biotest is very experienced in cold-chain shipping to and working with organizations in the developing world. In general, when WFH ships products itself, it uses couriers that have experience in cold-chain shipping as well as in shipping humanitarian aid. Even though the quantities in the current arrangement are small, WHF hopes that other developed countries will copy this project to increase the availability of factor VIII worldwide.