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New device for Ebola treatment developed in Ireland

An Irish company has developed a revolutionary device that could be used in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus as early as next year.

New device for Ebola treatment developed in Ireland. Photo Copyright - Urcomunicacion CC3
The devise is called ProBlood CP and was created by Irish company Hemanua. It separates the different components of human blood using gravity whereas the current machines are powered with electricity. This means ProBlood CP could be used in remote areas where electricity is not readily available. It would also be easier and cheaper to transport as it “fits in the palm of your hand”.

The Ebola virus has killed more than 5,000 people in Western Africa so far this year, and experts warn that the outbreak is still not under control. The current treatment involves giving victims a blood transfusion from people who have previously contracted and successfully overcome the virus.

These survivors have vital anti-bodies in their blood that can combat the Ebola virus. Their blood needs to be filtered through a machine to separate the blood plasma that contains these anti-bodies. The blood plasma is then given to victims of Ebola.

Hemanua have developed a device that can carry out the same process, but crucially doesn’t need electricity to work.

The Irish Independent asked spoke to the chief executive of Hemanua, Dan Maher, who explained how it works: “Here, in Ireland, when you give your blood it’s put into a big centrifuge, which spins around at high speed and the red blood cells move to one end, while the plasma remains in the other. Any country in the western world runs it like that.

“Using our product, when a person gives their blood, we allow the blood to flow down and enter our filter. It’s designed in such a way that the larger cellular materials like red blood cells actually come through the centre of it and the liquid part oozes through the edge of the fibre and is collected separately.”

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Another benefit of the ProBlood CP device is that blood donors can be given their blood back once the vital plasma has been removed. This means they get all their red blood cells back and can recover more quickly. Maher said: “They say you can only give blood four times a year at most, because your body needs time to recover those red blood cells you’ve given away. But with our product, when we take the blood from the donor, we can immediately give the red blood cells back, which allows them to re-donate in a much shorter period of time, maybe two weeks or less.”

ProBlood CP has already undergone clinical trials with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service and Hemanua are in discussions with international medical organisation Doctors Without Borders about taking the device to Africa next year.

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