The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation today announced receipt of patents on an in vitro process for inactivation of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in blood used for transfusions.
Available blood testing for HIV and other blood-borne virus antibodies may not reveal presence of the virus for as much as seven to ten days after the infection occurs. Because of this “window,” it is possible for an individual to contract HIV and still donate blood that testing would show to be infection free.
“The problem,” said Dr. William G. Thurman, OMRF’s President and Scientific Director, “is how to close that window. The procedure we are announcing today does just that. Methylene Blue (MB) is a very effective way of protecting human beings from HIV infection caused by blood and blood products.”
OMRF’s research was led by Dr. Robert A. Floyd, head of the foundation’s Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program. Floyd made the initial discovery for using a MB photoinactivation process to treat human blood and make it safe for use in transfusions.
According to Floyd, Methylene Blue, a photoreactive dye which has been in clinical use since the late 1800s, has almost no toxicity in humans, regardless of dosage. MB’s primary applications have been for conjugating bilirubin in exchange-transfusion babies, and in treating bipolar diseases and carbon monoxide poisoning.
“MB permeates HIV,” Floyd said. “When light hits the dye, MB produces an active oxygen molecule which in turn inactivates the virus.”
OMRF’s patented procedure uses MB dosages which are much lower than those used in the earlier clinical applications. “These very low levels of MB have been shown to very effectively inactivate the virus,” Floyd said. MB is introduced into blood bags, inactivating the HIV virus and closing the “window” on those infections which cannot be identified during early testing procedures.
“Our studies have proven that MB sterilizes the blood and blood products eventually made from it.” Thurman said. “MB also effectively inactivates HIV in existing blood supplies, so that patients can be confident that blood products such as plasma and anti-hemophilia globulin produced from pooled blood are safe if treated with MB.”
Floyd proved his original hypothesis in collaboration with Dr. Raymond Schinazi by demonstrating that MB will not allow HIV to grow in a laboratory environment.
In addition to the U.S. Patent announced today (U.S. Patent Number 5,571,666), OMRF holds patents on the MB procedure in Europe and Japan.
Human applications in Europe (based on OMRF research) indicate that MB will also inactivate HIV in humans. “It is our hope that the drug will be as useful in clinical disease as it is in preventing the disease by putting it in the blood in the bags,” Thurman said.
Floyd received his Ph.D. from Purdue University and joined the scientific staff at OMRF in 1974. He was named head of the Free Radical Biology and Aging Research Program in 1987. The American Aging Association recently presented Floyd its 1996 Research Award and gold medal for his research in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other aging associated diseases. Floyd was named the J.P. Hannigan Distinguished Scientist by OMRF’s Board of Directors in 1990. He received the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Award for best aging research in 1992.
The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research foundation dedicated to the search for better treatments and cures for human disease. Chartered in 1946, OMRF has earned international recognition for its research into cancer, heart disease, arthritis, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and others. Through basic biomedical research, the foundation continues to pursue its mission“…that more live longer, healthier lives.”