IPFA/PEI 26th International Workshop on Surveillance and Screening of Blood-borne Pathogens

Report of the 26th IPFA/PEI Workshop – Krakow, Poland

The 2019 IPFA/PEI annual workshop on Surveillance and Screening of Blood-borne Pathogens was held this year in the historic and beautiful city of Krakow, Poland on the 22nd and 23rd May. We were honoured and delighted that the Institute of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine (IHIT) was able to host the meeting and contribute so enthusiastically to the planning and organization of the event.

This year’s meeting continued its focus on identifying potential threats to the microbiological safety of transfusion products and identification of scientific developments and strategies to ensure their continued safety and efficacy in all regions of the world. The workshop was attended by approximately 200 delegates from 36 countries. It was fitting therefore that the meeting was opened by Professor Letowska (IHIT) with a national overview of Transfusion Medicine in Poland followed by a global perspective on blood safety and availability by Dr Jay Epstein drawing on his extensive experience from the US FDA and WHO. We thank them both for setting the scene for the workshop. 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 scientific programme of the workshop naturally varies from year to year reflecting current specific concerns, emerging risks, technological developments and often recurring themes. This year the scientific programme of the first day addressed a range of issues including Pathogenicity vs Infectious Dose, Hepatitis A and its increased incidence in Europe and the US and Non- Enveloped Viruses in both PDMPs and blood components and strategies for minimizing their transmission risks. Sessions were designed to be both educational and informative and feedback suggests that this objective was achieved.

The programme of the second day started with the Manufacturers Session in which colleagues from supporting commercial industries are able to present scientific and technical developments in their companies. The essential partnership between industry and those responsible for safeguarding the safety and supply of blood components and plasma products has and will continue to be an important part of the workshop programme. This year Abbott Diagnostics, Grifols, PCL, Inc, and Roche Diagnostics contributed in this way.

Subsequent sessions considered the risk of Hepatitis B transmission, which although very low, remains the most frequently reported transfusion transmitted infection. Transmission of occult Hepatitis B and the efficacy of testing scenarios were discussed and concluded with the need to adapt testing strategies to reflect its differing regional epidemiology.
A key objective of this and previous workshops is to contribute to the surveillance of emerging risks to blood safety. It was appropriate therefore to include in the programme a session on the constantly evolving and often unpredictable epidemiology of potential arbovirus transmission and the challenges it presents to the transfusion community.

The workshop concluded with a session on Strategies for Blood Safety, addressing three topics which currently or may in the future influence blood safety strategies and policies. These included the potential impact of global migration on blood safety, a global update on approaches and considerations for blood donation by MSM donors which currently remain often divergent between different countries and regions and an overview of the EU TRANSPOSE study on safety and selection of donors.

It is a long established tradition of the IPFA/PEI workshop to host a conference dinner which provides opportunity for networking amongst delegates and a brief period of relaxation. The informal dinner this year was held deep underground at the UNESCO Heritage site of the Wieliczka Salt Mine where we enjoyed a tour of this extraordinary place – with a 700 year history! We are grateful to the staff of this venue for providing such a spectacular experience!

Finally, IPFA has established an annual award to recognize individuals who have made a significant and sustained scientific contribution in the field of blood transfusion and plasma products. We were delighted this year to recognize Professor Thierry Burnouf (Taipei Medical University) for his outstanding contribution to the science, study and development of PDMPs.

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.

We are also indebted to Prof. Letowska and Dr Grabarczyk and their staff for hosting the meeting and contributing so enthusiastically to the organisation and running of the meeting. As always IPFA is also grateful for the support and contributions from our commercial sponsors without which this meeting would not be possible. On behalf of the organisers we thank you all!

IPFA/PEI 2020 Workshop – Porto, Portugal, 13-14 May, 2020

As announced at the Workshop IPFA will be holding the 27th IPFA/PEI International Workshop in 2020 in Porto, Portugal. Planning for this meeting has already begun and we look forward to welcoming you there – and to continue our discussions!

Please follow this link to download the high resolution version of the group photo taken in Krakow on day one of the workshop.