Home » Uncategorized

Stellarray Wins Grant for Blood Safety Device

2 June 2010

Austin, TX

Stellarray, Inc. has received a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to commercialize a blood irradiator using the company’s proprietary flat panel X-ray sources. Blood is routinely irradiated at hospitals and blood banks to prevent transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease, a usually fatal condition in which active T-leukocytes attack recipient organs, particularly in immuno-suppressed cases such as cancer patients. Irradiation is indicated in 10% of all blood/blood component transfusions in the U.S., meaning about 2.3 Mn blood units are irradiated per year. The predominant method is exposure to radioactive cesium 137. A 2008 report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, however, identified cesium 137 as the single most hazardous isotope in the inventory and the top priority for phase out, since it has a long half-life and is made in a dispersible salt form, making it the prime candidate material for a dirty bomb.

The grant awards Stellarray $2,983,958 for a three-year project to commercialize a non-radioactive blood irradiator using the company’s flat panel X-ray sources, which produce X-rays across a broad X-ray target. The Stellarray self-contained blood irradiator (SCBI) will provide hospitals and blood banks a safe alternative that will be cheaper, lighter, smaller and easier to operate than current choices. Hospitals and blood banks will be relieved of the onerous and costly security measures now required with isotope irradiators. Some of the many institutions which have not been able to install an irradiator will now be able to provide this service. Stellarray plans to continue discussions with prospective users over the summer and fall and have the first SCBI model ready for exhibit in October. Stellarray will be applying for FDA approval this year.

The NIH award has been made with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Stellarray will work on this project with a local hospital, blood research organizations and the electronic sterilization research program at Texas A & M University. In addition to providing the required dose for preventing graft-versus-host disease, which is an established FDA standard, the project will also break new ground in researching the use of radiation to extend the shelf life of blood platelets. Platelets typically can only be stored for five days for fear of bacterial contamination. Radiation at the right doses under the right conditions may be able to extend this period.

Mark Eaton, Stellarray’s President and CEO, said “This award gives us a chance to serve two important public needs – national security and blood safety – at once. We have been talking with blood banks and hospitals for over a year and believe we will provide them an effective solution that will get them out of the security business so they can spend that time serving the needs of transfusion patients. If on top of that we can help to increase the blood platelet supply we will have made a further contribution.”

Stellarray develops flat panel radiation sources and products using them. Plain X-ray panels are primarily for sterilization while pixilated X-ray panels are being developed for advanced imaging applications, such as small, real-time CT systems. SCBI will be the company’s first branded product. The basic panel technology has been developed with previous support from the Air Force Research Laboratory SBIR program and the Advanced Technology Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For further information please contact Mark Eaton at (512) 997-7781 or eaton@stellar-micro.com.