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17 May 2016

Pioneering new AB Serum pilot launched

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This month we are asking certain AB positive blood donors to be part of our exciting AB Serum Pilot Programme.

To take part in the pilot, donors must be female, able to make an appointment to give blood at Glasgow Donor Centre, and agree for their blood to be used to produce serum. This serum will then be used to test, validate and develop pioneering new cellular therapy treatments for a range of diseases, including:

  • the first ever trial to repair blood vessels using blood vessel cells grown in a laboratory
  • treatment to restore the sight of patients with eye damage or disease
  • projects that use stems cells to help bone repair
  • projects that use stems cells to improve the treatment of patient with severe and unstable diabetes
  • projects using specially grown blood cells to treat some types of lymphoma

Each of these treatments has the potential to change the lives of people with serious life limiting conditions.

How is AB Serum collected?

When AB blood is collected we allow it to clot, which lets us isolate the serum and remove it from the donation. AB serum is particularly useful because it doesn’t contain antibodies against any other blood groups, making it a very important, nutrient rich blood product.

The AB Serum will then be sent to the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine (part of SNBTS), to be used in the development of this pioneering work.

AB positive is one of the rarest blood types in Scotland - less than 3% of the population has AB blood. AB positive red cells can only be given to AB positive patients, which mean that bloodstocks of this group usually remain healthy. We monitor Scotland’s blood stocks levels very carefully and would never use a blood donation to collect serum when AB positive blood stocks are low.

If you are an AB positive female blood donor living in the Glasgow and the surrounding area, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us on 0345 90 90 999 or email nss.snbtsenquiry@nhs.net for more information. Please quote AB Serum when contacting us.

You can find more information in our AB Serum: Your Questions Answered leaflet. 

Your questions answered

Q: What is serum?
A: Serum is the liquid part of your blood left over after the blood has clotted. It contains nutrients and factors that are needed to support the growth of cellular therapies in our laboratory.

Q: Why does the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) need serum from AB donors?
A: AB serum is especially useful because it doesn’t contain antibodies against other blood groups. This means AB blood donors can help patients in Scotland in an exciting new way.

Q: What treatment does this support?
A: Scientists at SNBTS are at the forefront in the development of several innovative cellular therapies for some serious diseases. These include:

  • the first ever trial to repair blood vessels using blood vessel cells grown in a laboratory
  • treatment to restore the sight of patients with eye damage or disease
  • projects that use stems cells to help bone repair
  • projects that use stems cells to improve the treatment of patient with severe and unstable diabetes
  • projects using specially grown blood cells to treat some types of lymphoma

These treatments are very new and still in development. They have the potential to change the lives of people with serious life limiting conditions.

Q: Is this a good thing to do?
A: Yes. By supporting this work you will be helping SNBTS to develop pioneering treatments for a range of diseases which have been very difficult to treat in the past.

Q: I don’t live in Glasgow. Can I take part in the pilot?
A: During the pilot, we are only taking AB serum donations at the Glasgow Donor Centre. However, if you are willing to travel to Glasgow Donor Centre, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take part.

Q: Why are we not taking AB serum donations from male donors?
A: We process each individual donation to ensure we make to best use of the donors gift. Blood donations from male AB donors are used to prepare plasma for emergency transfusions. There is a high demand for this type of plasma so we need male AB donors to continue to give whole blood donations.

Q: I am an AB positive female blood donor living in the Glasgow area. Can I just walk in to the donor centre?
A: No. At the moment, we only take AB Serum donations by appointment.

Q: Is the process different to giving blood normally?
A: No. The process is just the same as your normal donation, although you might notice we are using a slightly different type of pack (blood bag). You still have to fill in the Donor Health Check form and meet all of our Donor Selection Guidelines before you can donate, including the finger prick test. The donation will take the same time as usual. We will also do the routine tests that we do on all donations. We will mark your record so we know that you are an AB serum donor, but please let staff know when you arrive at Glasgow Donor Centre.

Q: Will any of my donation be used for a patient?
A: We won’t be able to use your donation directly for a patient, but by taking part in this project you will benefit many patients in the future. New treatments are currently in various stages of development. Some of the AB serum we collect will be used in the development and testing of new treatments, but we expect the majority to be used in preparing treatments for patients. You can make a unique contribution to this pioneering work.

Q: What will happen to my donation after it is collected?
A: Your donation will be handled by our Processing and Testing laboratories. Once the serum has been separated and collected, it will be sent to the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine, which is part of SNBTS, for use in the development of cellular therapies.

Q: When will my donation start to help patients?
A: The serum from your donation will be used for the benefit of patients straight away.

Q: I’d like to do this. What’s the next step?
A: Please call us on 0345 90 90 999, or email NSS.snbtsenquiry@nhs.net to book your appointment to donate serum at Glasgow Donor Centre. On booking your appointment, please tell staff that you would like to become an AB serum donor. Due to the processing procedure we are only able to take serum donations Monday to Thursday in Glasgow Donor Centre.

Q: If all the donors are giving serum, will there be enough blood for patients?
A: Your blood group AB positive is one of the rarest blood groups, with less than 3% of the population having your blood type. AB positive red cells can only be given to AB positive patients, which means that blood stocks of this group usually remain healthy. We monitor Scotland’s bloodstocks very carefully and would not ask you to give serum if we needed your red cells.

 

 

Current blood stock levels across Scotland

We aim to retain 6 days of stocks at any time in order to meet the requirements of patients in Scotland.

Learn more about blood types