IPFA/PEI 24th International Workshop on Surveillance and Screening of Blood-borne Pathogens

Report of the 24th International IPFA/PEI Workshop

The 24th annual IPFA/PEI Workshop on Surveillance and Screening of Blood-borne Pathogens was this year held in Zagreb, Croatia and hosted by the Croatian Institute of Transfusion Medicine.

This workshop has for many years been a key event in the IPFA calendar and in response to the consistent views of participants and delegates’, we seek to focus the agenda and scientific programme specifically on the microbiological safety of transfusion products. This years meeting continued this focus and tradition but also provided an insight into the potential power of national and international blood transfusion databases for wider public health goals and personalised medicine. Dr Christian Erikstrup presented a stimulating and provocative opening Key Note presentation. This was followed by two days of truly world class presentations and discussion on topics of immediate relevance and potential future importance to the transfusion community and the patients they serve. The workshop concluded with a session on prospects for a cure for HIV and the potential impact of current prophylactic interventions for the efficacy of donor screening for HIV.

The Workshop welcomed 180 delegates from 27 countries worldwide to consider current policies, strategies and future initiatives to keep the blood supply safe – and cost effective!

What topics did the workshop address?

The scientific programme of the workshop naturally varies from year to year reflecting current specific concerns, emerging risks, technological developments and often recurring themes.

It was no surprise this year therefore that a session on HEV screening was included on the agenda providing an insight into the rationale for introduction of donor screening, experiences and data from existing screening programmes and options and strategies for HEV donor screening.

Appropriate donor selection and donor deferral remain important features of safety strategies for blood components and PDMPs. The Managing Donor Deferral session addressed this topic from the perspective of both blood establishments and modeling studies by regulators – including useful insights into the FDA rationale for managing vCJD risk.

Each year the workshop programme provides the opportunity for updates on individual topics which are believed to be important and relevant to delegates. This years Update Session included state of the art presentations on Zika screening in the US, a vCJD update from ongoing UK studies and Malaria/Babesia testing strategies and data. We were pleased also to include, on request of the EU Commission, a brief outline of plans for revision of EU legislation for blood supply and safety.

A Manufacturers’ Session is a regular feature of the workshop programme and this year included presentations from Abbott, Cerus, GFE Blut, Grifols and Roche on their current and potential future developments which underpin the work of the transfusion and blood/plasma collection agencies. IPFA remains grateful for the support and contributions from industry colleagues.

The session on Pathogen Inactivation of blood components was included in this year’s programme reflecting its widely recognised potential contribution to blood safety. Importantly, the structure of the session facilitated consideration of the efficacy of this technology, its impact on product function and the views from industry of its relevance in future portfolios of safety interventions.

The subsequent session on The Impact of Regulatory Requirements for Screening was similarly structured to promote inclusive discussion between all stakeholders on the development of IVDs for emerging infectious diseases and in emergency situations and future prospects for “rationalising” the use of Pathogen Inactivation, NAT and Serological interventions.

It seems likely that these topics will reappear in future workshops!

The workshop concluded with a session on Advances in HIV Cure Research and Impact of Early Therapy on HIV Diagnosis and Donor Screening. The session offered an authoritative overview of the status and prospects for a cure for HIV and an appreciation of the potential impact of pre-exposure prophylaxis and ART on HIV donor screening.

Thanks and Appreciation

Once again the organisers are indebted to all who contributed to this Workshop and in particular to speakers and chairpersons who gave much care and thought to ensure that the formal sessions were relevant, informative and provocative – their success in achieving this is clearly evident from both the formal and informal feedback we have received.

As always IPFA is also grateful for the support and contributions from our commercial sponsors without which this meeting would not be possible.

IPFA/PEI 2018 Workshop – Athens, Greece, 16 – 17 May 2018

As announced at the Workshop IPFA will be holding the 25th IPFA/PEI International Workshop in 2018. Planning for this meeting has already begun and we look forward to welcoming you there – and to continue our discussions!

Dr Paul Strengers, Executive Director IPFA