Advances in Apheresis Technologies

Rapid technological advancements are leading to the development of next-generation apheresis devices with automated interface systems, screen navigation and graphical user interface displays that will reduce human intervention and provide results faster and more effectively. Frost & Sullivan has researched the latest commercially available therapeutic apheresis technologies as well as emerging technologies in this space.

Therapeutic apheresis is a medical procedure using specialized equipment to remove selected blood constituents (plasma, leukocytes, platelets, or cells) from whole blood. For Medicare, apheresis is categorized as an autologous procedure (i.e., blood is taken from the patient, handled, and reinfused in the patient as a part of a continuous procedure. Hospitals are the primary users of apheresis equipment and solutions; other users include blood banks and dialysis centers.

Over the past decade, the United States has witnessed a growth in incidences of lymphomas. According to estimates from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an estimated 172,910 people in the country were expected to be diagnosed with myeloma, lymphoma, or leukemia in 2017. The survival rate in these cases is traditionally meager. Considering this, much more emphasis has been placed on improving treatment standards, which is likely to translate into higher demand for platelets and plasma for therapies and other treatment purposes. The increased use of plasma-derived biopharma drugs is driving demand for plasma-based therapies and related plasmapheresis devices. Haemonetics, Cerus Corporation and Fresenius Kabi are among the companies that have launched plasmapheresis products.

Demand is high for devices capable of reducing pathogens in platelet and plasma components to lower the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections. The focus on pathogen reduction is resulting in a shift toward whole-blood-derived platelets in the United States. Despite the fact that leukocyte reduction is important for lower human leukocyte antigen (HLA) immunization, about 90% of platelets in the United States are collected via apheresis. Significant growth opportunities exist for the adoption of related technology. Frost & Sullivan has researched the latest commercially available therapeutic apheresis technologies as well as emerging technologies in this space.

Terumo BCT (Lakewood, Colo.)

Terumo BCT operates in apheresis collections and other components of the blood life cycle, including whole blood processing and pathogen reduction technologies. Its transportable Spectra Optia apheresis system uses continuous flow centrifugation and a patented optical detection technology that helps the automated interface management system uninterruptedly manage the separated layers so the platelet and white blood cell layer accumulates. The AIM system then guides the operation to proficiently remove the required components.

The system is designed to monitor and interpret the interface continuously and does not require continuous monitoring by a technician. Through its interface stability, it successfully removes targeted components and achieves accurate results. 

Fresenius Kabi (Bad Homburg, Germany)

Engineers at the pharmaceutical company have come up with the efficient COM.TEC C5 separation chamber through which a single needle process reduces separation time to less than 60 minutes.  The versatile applications for therapeutic plasma or red cell exchange, stem cell and platelet collections and cell depletions using a single device make the COM.TEC a multiprocedural platform.

Fresenius Kabi is one of the top players in the U.S. market. It has partnerships with about 350 hospitals and performs about 25,000 apheresis treatments annually.

Haemonetics Corp. (Braintree, Mass.)

To improve quality and compliance and increase productivity in plasma collection centers, Haemonetics offers the new NexSys PCS plasmapheresis system. Its open design empowers bidirectional connectivity to donor management systems, facilitating automated collection process programming and automated end-of-process documentation. 

The system’s simple, guided operation; big, intuitive touchscreen; and on-screen troubleshooting support are intended to enhance plasma center efficiencies so that collection capacity increases and donors spend less time there. The NexSys PCS has connectivity to NexLynk DMS, which is Haemonetics’ donor management system. It builds on Haemonetics’ industry-leading position with a design enhanced through extensive user research.

The Road Ahead

Rapid technological advancements are leading to the development of next-generation apheresis devices with automated interface systems, screen navigation and graphical user interface displays that will reduce human intervention and provide results faster and more effectively. Technology vendors—specifically digital companies—can play a larger role in enhancing apheresis product features.

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