By Mike Mwaniki
Kenya has become the first country in Africa to launch a revolutionary technology that hospitals and researchers can utilise to store HIV/Aids infected blood at room temperature for seven days.
Blood STASIS DNA technology incorporates a plastic evacuated tube that contains proprietary additives to stabilise DNA, RNA, ccfDNA, Biomarkers, blood cells to assist in the anti‐coagulation of blood cells.
It is intended for collection, stabilisation, transportation and storage of blood at room temperature for up to 21 days and eliminates the need for expensive and costly cold chain transportation of blood samples.
Following the introduction of the new technology, it will now be easier to collect and preserve blood for
HIV testing for longer periods, and without possible contamination of samples.
Experts says this will assist researchers in viral load monitoring for people living with HIV/AIDS, and easy follow up as Blood STASIS tubes allow stabilisation of HIV virus in blood for seven days at room temperature.
The technology was launched by Magbio Genomics Solutions Africa (MGSA), a private company incorporated in Kenya, which is an affiliate of the United States-based Magbio Genomics Incorporated.
The technology has received the requisite approvals from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) and KEMRI.
MagBio GSA Global chief executive Dr Hyacinth Ntchobo said the uniqueness of the Blood STASIS Technology (BST) lies in its ability to allow blood sample collection and storage at room temperature for up to 21 days, allowing for accurate and quality data.
Ntchobo reiterated that the system allows flexibility and more efficiency in processing high volume blood samples for HIV.
He challenged Kenyan scientists to deploy the latest medical technology in the fight against HIV/AIDS in tandem with their counterparts in Europe and the United States, adding that the company is working with research institutions in Africa to develop customised products and technology.
“At MagBio, we have realised that the addition of blood stasis solution to whole blood specimen at the time of collection has significantly extended the integrity of samples in different biosamples.”
Speaking to Health Business, MagBio GSA Kenya Managing Director Oscar Diomande said Kenya undertakes 1.2 million viral load tests on those living with HIV/AIDS each year.
Diomande observed that by embracing the latest BST (Blood STASIS Tube) technology, there will be no waste of precious specimen(s) while costly cold chain transportation will become redundant.
“Clinicians, patients and researchers will experience less stress as there will be no need to return to patients for sample collection as the new technology has negligible sample rejection rate,” he said.
Diomande added that BST will ensure better and efficient specimen referral as well as reduced patient referral, appropriate and timely diagnosis.
“BST is used for patient blood collection system as a model RNA virus for testing clinical specimen stabilisation products for their ability to preserve nucleic acids, both DNA and RNA.”
KEMRI Chief Researcher Prof Matilu Mwau welcomed the revolutionary testing technology saying it would assist in accurate and quality data in HIV research.
Approximately 170,000 infants are exposed to HIV with 6,200 infected annually.
“HIV diagnosis in infants requires the detection of HIV RNA or DNA. RNA and DNA detection is done in eight laboratories countrywide,” Mwau said.
He described HIV as a single stranded RNA virus causing Aids, adding that RNA is the most accurate biomarker for HIV-1 viral load (VL) monitoring.
“Whole blood requires cold chain storage and quick processing to Dry Blood Spot (DBS) or to plasma for storage to maintain the stability of nucleic acids.”
The researcher noted that universal access to HIV diagnostics is achievable, saying some extant gaps can be addressed through point of care diagnosis, HIV genotyping for drug resistance and quality sample collection.
Diomande revealed the company is holding talks with relevant stakeholders and is planning to set up a production factory in Kenya in the future to serve the region.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has identified Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as among his government’s four key pillars.
Experts say achieving UHC means access to essential health services for everyone, including safe, effective and affordable medicines and vaccines, without financial hardship.
Diomande said MagBio GSA has two main divisions which are Genomics Consultancy Services and Products and Accessories Supply.
MagBio GSA Consulting Services is built on the business model that nations or private investors in Africa acknowledge the needs for programmes dealing with infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
At the same time, MagBio GSA’s Products and Accessories Supply provides innovative technology products that enable and advance research.