Life Sciences and Energy

Irish company at advanced stage of testing a treatment for Ebola

By Business & Finance
27 November 2014

Hemanua Limited, an Irish start-up company, in collaboration with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, today announced that they are in advanced testing of Hemanua’s ProBlood CP product for treatment of Ebola Virus Disease.

The ProBlood CP has the capability to enable the harvesting and the transfusion of convalescent plasma (CP) without electricity and driven only by gravity thereby providing a real advantage in remote and less developed regions such as West Africa. The ProBlood CP has additional advantages as it produces totally cell free plasma.

Dr William Murphy, medical and scientific director, Irish Blood Transfusion Service said: “The use of convalescent plasma from people who have recently recovered from Ebola virus infection has considerable promise as an effective treatment for patients with acute life-threatening infection.”

He added: “Clinical trials of plasma therapy are now planned by several agencies in the epidemic-affected region to assess this approach. Phase 1 test results on the ProBlood CP were very encouraging and the device provides a very real opportunity for clinicians in the field to provide convalescent plasma to the Ebola patients in their care easily and rapidly, and without the need for expensive and complex plasmapheresis equipment.”

Laboratory testing of Hemanua’s technology has been coordinated by Áine Fitzpatrick and Harry Croxon, medical scientists with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

Harry Croxon observed that: “Operationally, the ProBlood CP device tested in our Blood Components laboratory is good to go, by meeting the requirements to separate a donation of whole blood simply and efficiently into a unit of therapeutic plasma and donor blood cells within a timeframe of 60- 90 minutes. Results of preliminary laboratory tests indicate that the plasma should be found to be of similar therapeutic value to the plasma produced by conventional means.”

Dr Monique Gueguen, of Médecins sans Frontières in Paris said: “The use of plasmapheresis machines in remote locations can be problematic and a gravity-driven solution could prove of real interest, if full testing completes successfully. Preparation of units of red cell concentrates and plasma without a stable electricity supply and without sophisticated equipment could bring modern transfusion therapy in lesser developed blood centres and remote hospitals.”

Dan Maher, CEO, Hemanua Limited said: “ProBlood CP is based on the company’s patented filter configuration of hollow microfibres capable of extracting plasma while concentrating the red blood cells for re-transfusion to the donor.”  He stressed “the ability to re-transfuse immediately to the donor their own red cells is a critical advantage facilitating more frequent donations and keeping the donor healthy.”

Hemanua Limited was founded in early 2014 by Dan Maher, Michael Flaherty and Frank O’Regan and is based at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at UCD and has a development laboratory at the Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre in WIT.