Better Blood Sterilization with Ozone

Supply and Services Canada R&D Bulletin – Science and Technology; No.234, Sept. 1992

Ozone may soon be used to destroy viruses in donated blood, thanks to researchers at the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Red Cross (CRCS). Under a $300,000 contract with the Surgeon General Branch of DND’s National Defence Headquarters, researchers from the National Reference Laboratory of the CRCS are investigating two ozone sterilization technologies to confirm their reported efficacy in deactivating a variety of potential viral contaminants of blood, including HIV-1 and hepatitis.

“If the Canadian military is operating in an underdeveloped part of the world and is cut off from its supplies, we may have to resort to local blood sources”, says Major Brian Crowell, Health Services Research Coordinator at DND. “We’re looking for a sterilization technique that can be taken to the field, put together on the tailboard of a truck or in a tent, and used to sterilize donated blood quickly and effectively.”

Once developed, such a sterilization technique would have applications beyond the military. Dr. Peter Gill, Director of the CRCS’ National Reference Laboratory, says ozone sterilization technology could be used in disasters to aid civilian populations. Researchers are investigating two methods of sterilizing blood with ozone that have been patented by Medizone and Mueller Medical. These ozone sterilization methods are easy to operate, quick to perform and cheap. Researchers will also investigate ways to combine ozone sterilization and filtration techniques. There are no known adverse or toxic effects of ozone sterilization. In Europe in 1986, the University of Bonn investigated over 350,000 cases where ozone was used therapeutically and found virtually no side effects of ozone therapy when properly administered.

Results from Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland indicate that ozone seems to destroy only infected cells, deactivating them and the viruses in them, all without creating toxicity problems. “The products of this research have worldwide applications” says DND’s Capt. Shannon. “Ozone sounds almost too good to be true. We’re trying not to be over-enthusiastic, but the data so far is very compelling.”

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