Ambition 2: For patients

Solutions for patients

Everything we do, we do for patients right around the world who need our products and expertise. It’s our mission to provide life-saving products and to focus on healthcare needs. Through scientific research, we seek and find new solutions for medical problems related to transfusion medicine, haematology and immunology.

Bram Boon has CIDP. “CIDP is a nerve disease that slowly affects your muscles. I use the medicine Nanogam every two weeks with the help of Sanquin’s Home Service. It’s great that I can get this treatment at home. I usually watch TV while having the infusion. Or I take a 30-minute nap. The Home Service nurse gives me the IV, but I can disconnect it myself with my wife’s help.”

Ten years of Sanquin Home Service

The Sanquin Home Service delivers ‘personalised care’ for patients needing regular intravenous (in the vein) or subcutaneous (under the skin) plasma medicines to treat their disease. These patients previously had to go to hospital for treatment; now thanks to Home Service, a registered nurse visits them at home and is responsible for administering and handling the infusion. Willing patients and/or informal caregivers can also perform some of the tasks themselves, such as disconnecting the infusion line. The nurse can train and support them with this.

Sanquin Home Service celebrated its tenth birthday in 2015, and the Netherlands Institute for Health Service Research (NIVEL) conducted an evaluation among patients, informal caregivers and care providers. The result: patients awarded Sanquin Home Service an average rating of 8.9. Having medication administered in their own environment is particularly appreciated. Healthcare providers are also positive, awarding the Sanquin Home Service an average rating of 8.3.

Omniplasma preferred

Since April 2015 Sanquin has only supplied a single type of plasma to hospitals, Omniplasma – a plasma for transfusions, consisting of combined (pooled) plasma donations from 600 different donors. The plasma is subjected to virus-destroying treatment and a treatment to remove prions (proteins causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). This makes Omniplasma safer than the Quarantine plasma supplied previously to hospitals as a standard product. The supply of Quarantine plasma for large-scale use has, therefore, been significantly reduced. Sanquin still maintains a limited volume of Quarantine plasma for special patient groups, such as new-borns.

Small Magister

In 2015, as a world first, Sanquin developed a fully automatic blood analysis machine specially for hospital laboratories and blood banks undertaking a small to moderate number of blood group serology tests per day. This Magister C24 provides fully automated serological blood group analyses, including blood group type, antibody screening, cross-matching and a direct antiglobulin test. Previously laboratories processing limited numbers of tests had to perform them manually or semi-automatically with equipment that didn’t entirely meet their requirements. The Magister C24 gives these laboratories a suitable solution for optimal safety. Sanquin will market the Magister C24 in mid-2016 once the required certification process has been completed.

Testing pregnant women

Sanquin is again permitted to perform tests to identify antibodies and foetal RhD typing in pregnant women. Maternal antibodies can enter the foetal blood through the mother, and subsequently break it down. The child could develop anaemia and become severely ill. Sanquin tests the mother’s blood to prevent this, and where necessary, anti-D prophylaxis is given (known as the Rhesus vaccination). Sanquin already performs this test for 57,000 pregnant women in the Netherlands every year on behalf of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Having won the European tender in 2014, Sanquin can continue to perform this testing until at least 2018, with the option of an additional two-year extension.

Tissues & Cells

Sanquin launched its new Tissues & Cells business unit on 1 January 2015. The unit focuses on Sanquin activities that are subject to the Safety and Quality of Body Materials Act: the Bone Bank in Groningen and Nijmegen, the Cord Blood Bank in Leiden, and the Stem Cell laboratory in Groningen. Tissues & Cells strives to improve efficiency, safety, quality and the development of new tissue products in the Netherlands. The Cord Blood Bank is continuing its ‘Growth’ programme to expand the bank with more high-quality cord blood units.

Sanquin entered into an administrative joint venture with the Leiden tissue bank Bislife in May to achieve further centralisation of tissue activities. Bislife’s activities will be integrated with those of Sanquin T&C’s. Tissue & Cells managing director Daphne Thijssen-Timmer will take on the role of seconded manager for Bislife.

Cell and tissue transplantations involve the use of a patient’s own material more frequently than blood transfusions do. These autologous products are required because cells and tissues have many more specific characteristics than blood cells do, so that finding a suitable donation is challenging. A suitable donor is thus also sought within the patient’s family for some types of cell and tissue donations: the related donor.

The table below displays various Sanquin cell and tissue products, drawing a distinction between the type of product and its origin (autologous, related or unrelated).

Tissue type

Number processed 2015

Number distributed 2015

Autologous blood stem cells

776

563

Blood stem cells from related donors

12

12

Blood stem cells from unrelated donors

31

31

Stem cells from bone marrow, autologous

2

1

Stem cells from bone marrow, from unrelated donors

4

4

Bone marrow stem cells from unrelated donors, processed into medication

3

1

Stem cells from cord blood, from related donors

4

1

Stem cells from cord blood, from unrelated donors

1,634

19

White blood cells (lymphocytes) from unrelated donors

3

3

White blood cells (lymphocytes), autologous, processed into medication (TIL)

4

4

T-lymphocytes, unrelated

3

4

Bone products from unrelated donors, various

1,318

1,478

Skull bone flap, autologous

110

55

Cartilage products from unrelated donors, various

11

32

More transfusion expertise

Sanquin has taken the lead in the creation of a consortium for blood transfusion research, to exchange knowledge and promote scientific research in the field. Various parties have joined forces in the consortium: along with Sanquin, they include the national agency for haemovigilance and biovigilance TRIP, practically all the academic hospitals, a number of tertiary teaching hospitals (STZs) and some smaller private hospitals. The consortium comes under the umbrella of the Netherlands Association for Blood Transfusion (NVB) as a working group.

YouTube success

Sanquin published several video series covering what it does, on its YouTube channel. The video series Blood saves lives shows how stem cells from cord blood can save the lives of cancer patients. New mother Emerntia, former leukaemia patient Bram and nurse Annemarie share their special stories.

In the video series Living with rare sickle-cell disease, eight year-old Denischa talks about her life with a rare form of severe anaemia caused by sickle-cell disease. Thanks to blood transfusions, she has less pain and can lead a healthier life. Sanquin expert Karin Fijnvandraat explains sickle-cell disease in the series. The videos created a stir on social media, and Dutch TV programme Hart van Nederland showcased the series on 4 January 2016.

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