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MOBIO Member Highlight

The Power of Plasma

CSL’s Commitment to Rare Diseases, Emergency Medicine and Women’s Health

CSL is a global biotechnology leader that develops and delivers innovative medicines that save lives, protects public health and helps people with life-threatening medical conditions live full lives. We are driven by our promise to patients and people. We operate one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated plasma collection networks,  – six located in Missouri. 

Donated plasma is used to produce plasma-derived therapies which have a number of important uses including the treatment of rare diseases such as bleeding disorders, primary immune deficiencies, hereditary angioedema, inherited respiratory disease, and neurological disorders. These therapies are also critical for usage in cardiac surgery, organ transplantation, burn treatments, women’s health and to prevent hemolytic diseases in newborns which can cause brain damage.

Plasma and Rare Diseases 

Plasma-derived therapies are used in the treatment of a number of rare diseases. For example, individuals with an immune deficiency may lack a specific plasma protein or have a malfunctioning version which can lead to serious, and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Plasma-derived therapies take the working proteins from plasma donors and through innovative manufacturing, are converted into therapies to address specific deficiencies. For many conditions, plasma-derived therapies are the only known effective treatment. 

In the last 50 years, plasma-derived therapies have dramatically increased the survival rates for individuals with common variable immune deficiency (CVID), one of the more common immune deficiencies. According to a 2008 study, in 1972, the 12-year survival rate of patients with CVID was 30 percent[1]. However, as of 2008, that rate increased to 91 percent, and has likely only increased since. 

It does take a significant number of plasma donations to treat one patient for a year. For example, for someone with a primary immune deficiency disease, 130 plasma donations are needed to treat that patient for one year. For an individual living with hereditary angioedema, 1,000 plasma donations are needed to treat that individual for a year. These are just a few reasons why plasma donations and an ongoing supply of plasma inventory are very critical.


Plasma and Emergency Medicine

Plasma-derived therapies are used every day to treat patients in the emergency room, operating room and in the intensive care unit. 

In the surgery setting, plasma-derived therapies are used to prevent or treat bleeding for several different causes. For example, patients on blood thinners can be at increased risk of bleeding during surgery. A plasma-derived therapy known as a prothrombin complex can prevent or treat major bleeds in these situations.[2].

Plasma is used on an hourly basis to help treat individuals who have suffered a traumatic injury or are in shock. Albumin, one of the more common plasma-derived therapies, has shown a potential survival benefit when used as a resuscitative fluid for those patients who have sepsis[3]

For those individuals suffering from severe burns, plasma products can treat both the loss of volume of albumin, and low albumin due to their injuries[4][5].


Plasma and Women’s Health

Another key and increasing area where plasma-derived therapies are used to help individuals is in women’s and maternal health. The most common bleeding disorder is von Willebrand disease (VWD) which affects approximately 1% of the world’s population (81 million individuals)[6].

Women who have VWD often have heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding that can interfere with a woman’s physical, social, emotional and material quality of life. Plasma-derived therapies are often used to help treat VWD, and the effects it has to help decrease the heavy bleeding instances[7].

Pregnant women with VWD are at an increased risk for serious bleeding during and after delivery. Plasma-derived therapies help new mothers have a successful pregnancy, deliver a healthy child and manage post-partum bleeding[8].

In the case of Rh incompatibility - when the pregnant mother is Rh-negative, and the fetus/newborn is Rh-positive - the mother is exposed to the blood of the fetus during pregnancy, labor or birth. When this occurs, the body will recognize the Rh-positive blood and attempt to attack it via antibodies[9]. In these instances, the newborn is at high risk of developing serious medical conditions such as hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN) which can cause severe brain damage. In countries where plasma-derived therapies are widely available, HDN has been nearly eradicated through education and availability of these therapies to help prevent these complications. 

Donated plasma is critical in the treatment of rare disease, emergency medicine, and women’s health, and CSL is committed to working every day to ensure that we improve the lives of our patients. We encourage Missourians to do the amazing and join us in our commitment to these patients. For more information or to find one of our Missouri locations near you, please visit us at CSL Plasma

[1]Chapel, H, Lucas, M, Lee, M, et al. Common variable immunodeficiency disorders: division into distinct clinical phenotypes. Blood. 2008;112(2):277-286.

[2]Cleveland Clinic. Warfarin (Coumadin): What it is, Uses & Side Effects. Published June 9, 2023. Accessed September 19, 2023.

[3]Rhodes, A, Evans, LE, Alhazzani, W, et al. Surviving Sepsis Campaign: International Guidelines for Management of Sepsis and Septic Shock: 2016. Intensive Care Medicine. 2017; 43:304–377.

[4]Mayo Clinic. Burns - Symptoms and Causes. Published August 13, 2022. Accessed September 19, 2023.

[5]U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Albuminex. Published September 14, 2023. Accessed September 19, 2023.

[7]Committee on Adolescent Health Care. Committee Opinion: Screening and Management of Bleeding Disorders in Adolescents with Heavy Menstrual Bleeding (Number 785). American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology; 2019.

[8]James, P, Hames, AH. Von Willebrand disease (VWD): Gynecologic and obstetric considerations. UpToDate; 2023.

[9]American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The Rh Factor: How It Can Affect Your Pregnancy. N.D. Accessed January 10, 2024.

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