Product safety

We have to identify emerging risks, and develop ways to measure and control new risks. We monitor the emergence of diseases in Australia, develop and implement testing, and explore ways to eradicate them from the blood supply.

Infectious diseases aren’t the only risks related to blood transfusion. Studies are underway to examine how donor variation, blood processing and storage can affect the clinical outcome for patients who receive transfusions. This work will lead to safer blood products and improved transfusion safety.

Research leaders

An image of Professor Robert Flower
Prof Robert Flower

National Research Program Leader

Product Safety Research Group

Image of Catherine Hayland
Prof Catherine Hyland

Principal Research Fellow

Product Safety Research Group

Dr John-Paul Tung
Dr John-Paul Tung

Senior Research Fellow

Product Safety Research Group

Image of Dr. Elvina Viennet
Dr Elvina Viennet

Research Fellow

Product Safety Research Group

Helen O'Brien
Helen O'Brien

Senior Research Assistant

Product Safety Research Group

doctor rebecca griffiths profile image
Dr Rebecca Griffiths

Senior Research Fellow

Product Safety Research Group

Doctor Eileen Roulis
Dr Eileen Roulis

Research Fellow

Product Safety Research Group

Current projects 

 

Monitoring emerging diseases 

Climate change and people’s ease of movement allow new viruses to spread easily across the globe, as recently shown by COVID19. Researchers at Lifeblood track the appearance of new diseases by testing samples from across Australia. In recent years, they’ve monitored Zika, Chikungunya, hepatitis E, Dengue fever, Q-fever and Babesia viruses. Their studies provide information to help us select healthy donors and decide when to introduce new tests. 

 
Testing technology to kill viruses and other pathogens 

Pathogen Inactivation Technologies (PI) can improve blood safety by inactivating bacteria and viruses in blood products using ultraviolet light. Studies are underway to find out if these systems can kill viruses which may be emerging threats in Australia. 

 
Reducing transfusion complications 

Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI) is a rare complication of blood transfusion. Patients with TRALI have breathing difficulties and low blood oxygen following a transfusion. We're studying the link between blood components’ storage conditions and TRALI. This research will help us understand the mechanisms of TRALI and reduce its incidence using sheep as a model to mimic the human condition. 


 
Molecular signals during blood transfusion 

Blood transfusion can lead to complications in some patients. We want to know how a patient’s own blood cells respond to transfusion by making a variety of molecular signals. These signals may contribute to some of the poor outcomes from transfusions. 


 
Preventing problems for babies by using non-invasive testing 

Babies whose blood contains the RhD antigen (Rh positive) can suffer from life-threatening anaemia (known as HDFN) if their mother doesn't have the RhD antigen (Rh negative). Doctors currently protect unborn babies from HDFN by injecting all Rh negative mothers with Anti-D antibodies during pregnancy. We've developed a diagnostic test which uses a blood sample from the mother to check the blood type of her foetus. This testing means we can reduce the use of expensive Anti-D. Our researchers are working on a cost-benefit analysis, and extending the test to blood groups other than RhD.

Selected publications

Inactivation of yellow fever virus in plasma after treatment with methylene blue and visible light and in platelet concentrates following treatment with ultraviolet C light
Faddy HM, Fryk JJ, Hall RA, Young PR, Reichenberg S, Tolksdorf F, Sumian C, Gravemann U, Seltsam A, Marks DC.
2019
Transfusion
59: 2223-2227
Fresh frozen plasma and platelet concentrate storage duration not associated with in hospital mortality risk
Ng MSY, Hay K, Choy J, Middelburg RA, Tung JP, Fraser JF.
2019
Vox Sang
114: 835-841
Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for fetal Kell, Duffy and Rh blood group antigen prediction in alloimmunised pregnant women: power of droplet digital PCR
O’Brien H, Hyland C, Schoeman E, Flower RLP, Daly J, Gardener G. Br J
2020
Haematol
189: e90-e94
Coronary artery bypass grafting is associated with immunoparalysis of monocytes and dendritic cells
Perros AJ, Esguerra-Lallen A, Rooks K, Chong F, Engkilde-Pedersen S, Faddy HM, Hewlett E, Naidoo R, Tung JP, Fraser JF, Tesar P, Ziegenfuss M, Smith S, O'Brien D, Flower RLP, Dean MM.
2020
J Cell Mol Med
2020/03/18;10.1111/jcmm.15154
Frequency of Mia(MNS7) and classification of Mia-positive hybrid glycophorins in an Australian blood donor population
Lopez GH, Wilson B, Turner RM, Millard GM, Fraser NS, Roots NM, Liew YW, Hyland CA, Flower RLP.
2019
Transfusion Medicine and Hemotherapy
epub;10.1159/000504026: