Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) Adding a layer of safety in blood transfusion by Dr. Anand Deshpande

Posted by : Dr Amrita Vaidya, 22 Dec 2011 05:46 AM
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Blood transfusion provides an essential and life-saving support in modern healthcare. When used correctly it can save lives. However, it can cause acute or delayed complications and also carries the risk of Transfusion Transmitted Infections (TTIs) such as HIV, HBV, HCV and other diseases. The five tests mandatory by Food & Drugs Administration (FDA) for the donated blood units are HBsAg, HIV Ab, HCV Ab, VDRL and Malarial parasites. Current testing methods carried out in India are based on the principle of enzyme immunoassay (EIA). EIA- based blood screening tests detect virus-induced antibodies or viral antigens, not the virus itself. The main problem is that the body takes some time to produce detectable amount of antibodies that can be detected by these methods. This period from the time someone is infected to the time that enough antibodies are produced for the laboratory to detect, is called the ‘seroconversion window’ or ‘window period’. In some cases such as HCV it could be as high as 60 days or more. In addition, the EIA screening has a very high rate of false positives that unfortunately results in perfectly healthy donors being labelled as “positive”. Hence, in these techniques, test specificity is sacrificed somewhat to gain more sensitivity. To read more download article...
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