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Technology Ventures

Iron Chelation Prevents the Acute Adverse Effects of Aged Red Blood Cell Transfusions

Technology #2539

Blood transfusions are vital procedures in the clinic to ensure proper treatment and care of patients. However, when old red blood cells (RBCs) are used for transfusion, this can result in the acute delivery of iron that results in an “iron overload.” This “iron overload” has been shown to negatively affect innate immunity, inflammation, and nutritional immunity, and infection. This technology describes a method to treat patients with iron chelators prior to or during transfusion. In addition, the technology also describes the storage of RBCs in bags coated with iron chelators to decrease post-transfusion morbidity and mortality as well as significantly increase the supply of transfusable blood. By reducing the amount of free iron that could be potentially transferred, this technology could prevent the release of inflammatory cytokines and inhibit the proliferative capacity of infective pathogens that can complicate patient treatment.

Storage of blood in iron chelator-coated bags expands the supply of safe-to-transfuse blood by preventing acute iron overload.

With 5 million patients in the U.S. receiving blood transfusions each year, this technology has the potential to significantly improve the treatment outcomes of many patients. The use of blood storage bags coated with iron chelators may expand the shelf life of donated blood and increase the availability of transfusable blood. Additionally, with many iron-chelating drugs already approved for the treatment of chronic iron overload, the development of a new therapeutic for preventing acute iron overload toxicity may be expedited.

Lead Inventor:

Steven L. Spitalnik, MD.


  • Increasing the safety of aged RBCs transfusion by providing a storage unit with inherent iron-chelating properties.
  • Administration of intravenous iron chelators may prevent acute iron overload in patients receiving blood transfusions.
  • Prevention of the adverse effects (such as infection and inflammation) arising from acute iron overload.
  • Improving standard blood transfusion protocols in hospitals across the US via application of iron chelators


  • Use of such storage techniques may expand the blood supply by increasing the acceptable shelf life of red blood cells.
  • Development of iron chelating agents for the reduction of acute iron overload may be simplified by the prior approval of drugs for iron toxicity treatment.
  • Iron chelator treatment may also reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections by infective ferrophilic pathogens.

Patent information:

Patent Pending (WO/2010/147621)

Licensing Status:

Available for licensing and sponsored research support

Tech Ventures Reference: IR 2539

Related Publications:

E.A. Hod et al. Transfusion of red blood cells after prolonged storage produces harmful effects that are mediated by iron and inflammation. Blood, Vol. 115, No. 21, pp. 4284-4292. May, 2010.E.A. Hod and S.L. Spitalnik. Harmful effects of transfusion of older stored red blood cells: iron and inflammation. Transfusion. Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 881-885. April, 2011E.A. Hod and S.L. Spitalnik. Stored red blood cell transfusions: Iron, inflammation, immunity, and infection. Transfus Clin Biol. Vol. 3, pp. 84-9. Jun, 2012.

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