New expertise in human-derived biological products

Héma-Québec researchers save a young boy’s sight

Québec City, January 16, 2015 – A young boy in Stoneham owes his sight to the work of a team of researchers from Héma-Québec and a product they developed using a derivative of plasma, the liquid portion of blood that contains a variety of proteins.

Led by Louis Thibault, Director, Operational Research, the team produced eye drops using a concentrate of one of these proteins, known as plasminogen, in Héma-Québec’s laboratories, located on the campus of Université Laval. The drops were made to treat a severe case of ligneous conjunctivitis, a rare eye disorder that occurs in patients with plasminogen deficiency.

“We are obviously proud of this innovation, but for us this achievement is part of our mission to develop and provide expertise and specialized, innovative services in the field of human biological products. Our greatest source of satisfaction is harnessing Héma-Québec’s experience in ensuring the quality, safety and development of products that meet the strictest standards for patients with specific needs,” explained Dr. Thibault, who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

Québec expertise

Héma-Québec developed this new blood product at the request of Dr. Isabelle Laliberté, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Centre mère-enfant Soleil, part of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université Laval (CHUL).

Dr. Laliberté turned to Héma-Québec after attempting multiple treatment protocols to help her patient. “We tried all possible options, including fresh plasma transfusions, to compensate for the lack of plasminogen in our young patient’s blood. After a year of treatments and surgical procedures, we were virtually still at square one. The scientific literature referred to the use of plasminogen drops, but they were not available on the market, given how rare the pathology is. That’s when I approached Héma-Québec. The team was able to produce the drops after a few months of work. The results after the drops were administered were immediate and compelling, enabling us to avoid complications that may have left the patient blind,” Dr. Laliberté explained. “It’s a wonderful team accomplishment.”

The patient, now three years old, can now go about his normal daily activities, and both he and his parents are enjoying a much improved quality of life.

This new activity attests to Héma-Québec’s experience and know-how in supplying human-derived biological products, including blood products, cord blood, hematopoietic stem cells, human tissues and mother’s milk.

This accomplishment was also singled out for recognition at the 2014 Innovation Awards by the Association pour le développement de la recherche et de l'innovation du Québec (ADRIQ), in the product innovation category.

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the needs of the Québec population for safe, optimal-quality blood and blood products, human tissues, cord blood, mother’s milk and cellular products; and to develop and provide expertise and specialized, innovative services in the field of human biological products. Héma-Québec encompasses 1,300 employees, over 300,000 donor visits to blood drives per year, 16,000 volunteers and more than 500,000 blood products delivered annually to Québec hospitals to meet the needs of patients.

Give blood. Give life.

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