U.S. to help fund technology to eliminate Zika in blood supply

The U.S. government said on Monday it has agreed to help fund two pathogen reduction technologies to help reduce the risk of Zika virus and other infections from being transmitted through the blood supply.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the funding will flow through its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) unit, which will provide initial funding of $30.8 million to Cerus Corp and $17.5 million to the U.S. division of Japan's Terumo Corp.

Cerus's Intercept technology has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce pathogens in platelets and plasma. It is conducting a trial to show it can also reduce pathogens in red blood cells.

BARDA's agreement with Cerus includes $10.7 million to help evaluate the safety of the blood system in Puerto Rico, which is hard hit by the current Zika epidemic. The initial three-year contract could be extended for up to five years and include an additional $149 million to cover more studies, manufacturing and new products, including additional testing in regions where Zika is prevalent.