Companies

Description

Cerus Corporation is an American multinational biotechnology company headquartered in Concord, California that develops and provides a treatment system to pathogen-reduce human blood products for the healthcare industry.

History

In the mid-1980s, hematologist Laurence Corash developed a novel method of inactivating HIV particles contained in donated blood plasma using ultraviolet lights. He continued building prototypes with help from colleagues at the UC-San Francisco School of Medicine, and together with chemist John E. Hearst founded the company as Cerus Technologies Inc. on September 19, 1991, later to be renamed as Cerus Corporation in its initial 1996 SEC filing.

Products

The company's proprietary technology (called Helinx) was conceived by Corash in the mid-1980s as a method to protect patients from HIV-tainted plasma and platelet donations in the growing AIDS epidemic. These two blood components were found to be suitable to treat in ex-vivo isolation with the company's UV-A light process due to their naturally translucent properties. The UV exposure process works by intentionally damaging DNA and RNA material in foreign virus and bacteria that might be present, while remaining harmless to the donated blood plasma and platelets (which contains no RNA or DNA).

In December 2001, the Helinx process was incorporated into a medical device called Intercept Platelet blood screening system, and Cerus entered an agreement with Baxter International Inc to jointly commercialize the device in the European Union healthcare market and gain regulatory approvals. In 2006, Cerus announced they had acquired all of Baxter's shared commercial rights to the Intercept blood system for plasma and platelets, and also revealed that they were working on expanding their system to treat red blood cells (which are more opaque and harder to treat). Cerus later entered into another commercialization agreement with Grifols S.A. to market and operate their products in blood centers in Spain and Portugal.

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