Ask A Scientist: How Do You Test for Blood-Borne Pathogens?

What’s in This Vial?

It’s a question we’re happy to hear from inquisitive customers, and one that’s important for all researchers to know the answer to.

For years we have been answering customer questions about the pathogen testing that we conduct on our immune cell products and donors, so we’re answering those FAQs here for your reference as well.

While we can assure you that we’ve thoroughly tested our donors, you should still handle all samples with caution.

Astarte’s Blood-Borne Pathogen Testing

Our blood donors undergo leukapheresis at an FDA-licensed blood bank, which independently tests donors routinely as they donate blood or platelets for transfusions. Samples from our donors undergo the same testing at the same FDA-licensed lab. The table below gives greater detail into the blood-borne pathogen testing conducted on all Astarte donors.

Required Testing for TransfusionsAstarte Donor TestingTest Method
HIV-1 and HIV-2YesNucleic acid testing
Hepatitis B Surface AntigenYesImmunoassay for presence of surface antigen in the blood, indicates active infection
Hepatitis B Antibody to Surface AntigenYesTests for presence of antibody to surface antigen, present in people who have been immunized (serologic)
Hepatitis B Virus Core AntibodyYesTests for presence of antibody to core antigen, present after infection with HBV
Hepatitis C AntibodyYesSerologic testing
Hepatitis B Virus DNAYesNucleic acid testing
Hepatitis C Virus RNAYesNucleic acid testing
West Nile Virus RNAYesNucleic acid testing
Chagas Disease (Trypanosoma Cruzi)Serologic testing
SyphilisYesSerologic testing
HTLV-I and HTLV-II AntibodyYesSerologic testing
Cytomegalovirus AntibodyYesSerologic testing
Zika Virus RNANucleic acid testing

What We Don’t Test For

There are a few things that are required for transfusion collections that we don’t demand of our donors.

  • We don’t exclude donors who have traveled to malaria-prone areas of the world.
  • We don’t exclude donors who traveled to or lived in Europe or Great Britain before the mad cow disease outbreak.
  • We don’t exclude donors who have received a tattoo in the past year.
  • We don’t test donors for Chagas Disease or Zika Virus RNA.

Handle All Samples with Care

Although we rigorously test our donors and samples for blood-borne pathogens, you should treat all samples as potentially infectious under Biosafety Level 2 controls. There is always a chance that an unknown infection could be present in a given sample. 

One example is the JC virus (human polyomavirus 2), which is latently present in many normal individuals but can be reactivated in immunosuppressed people and cause a potentially fatal brain infection. 

The Epstein-Barr virus and herpesvirus-6 are two other examples of latent infections that are widespread in the human population, and the list goes on and on. Always wear a lab coat and gloves and handle samples in a class II biological safety cabinet. 

See All Cell Samples

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