Nonwoven filter tech project could save NHS £30m a year

New nonwoven filter technology project launched.

The Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute (NIRI) is leading a new nonwoven filter technology project to produce universal plasma, which aims to save the NHS over £30 million per year.

Leading a consortium of experts in their respective fields, NIRI has reached successful proof-of-concept in developing a new nonwoven filter technology – through the Sanguis project – to remove antibodies from donated blood and so produce universal plasma.

Health services must hold sufficient stocks of different blood group plasma to ensure an adequate supply to meet clinical demands and to ensure patient safety. In addition to logistical challenges, this current situation presents a potential risk to patients, should transfused blood components be incorrectly matched.

The successful production of universal plasma would enable hospitals to keep a single stock of blood, reducing the risk of transfusion delays, avoiding wastage and cutting administrative costs – savings estimated at £30 million in the UK alone.

Potentially, emergency services could carry universal plasma for use in the ‘golden hour’, the 60-minute period during trauma patient treatment when medical intervention has the greatest chance of saving life.

The Sanguis filter uses an artificial antigen that mimics the structure of the naturally occurring antigens found in red blood cells, incorporating NIRI’s patented linker technology and nonwoven expertise, the feasibility of which has already been proven in a Technology Strategy Board-funded study.

NHSBT analysed the blood / plasma both before and after filtration, at the Component Development Laboratory in Cambridge. Haemostatic properties of the filtered plasma were tested to check whether it was safe for transfusion, with the emphasis on the quality of the plasma proteins and clotting pathways.

Safety and biological testing assessed the effect of filtration on seven parameters in the blood and confirmed no negative impacts on the quality of the blood plasma following the filtration process. The filters did not adversely affect the plasma, as proteins were not removed and clotting pathways were not activated.

Dr Matthew Tipper, Business Director at NIRI, said: “This project has huge potential to benefit health services – increasing efficiency, reducing costs and improving patient safety, with the potential to help save lives.

“We are looking at additional applications for the technology as the fundamental approach developed, tested and proven here could be modified to provide a platform technology for selective filtration for other liquids and, in the first instance, we are considering applications for fuel filtration, food and beverage and for the wider pharmaceutical industry.”

NIRI is now focused on developing, expanding and commercialising the technology.”

Incorporating NIRI’s patented technology, the Sanguis project (beyond proof-of-concept) involved several partners – chemistry specialists Carbosynth Limited, blood filter manufacturer Macopharma (UK) Limited and NHSBT, with significant support from Innovate UK.