AN IRISH start-up company is in the advanced stages of testing for a new product that could have a major impact in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.
The 'ProBlood CP' from Irish company Hemanua Limited is capable of harvesting plasma from donated blood "without electricity and driven only by gravity" - a real advantage in under-developed regions.
Hemanua CEO Dan Maher said plasma taken from the blood of an Ebola survivor has shown considerable promise as a treatment by providing an immune system "jump-start" for patients battling the virus.
He said most developed nations already have the technology to separate blood into its major parts however the machinery is expensive and requires highly-trained operators.
"What we have is the capability, using people who are less trained, to literally just hang up the blood and, through a filter, allow gravity to separate it into its key components," he said.
He said separating the blood allows for oxygen rich red blood cells to be returned to the donor making the transfusion process far less taxing on survivors who may already be weakened by the virus.
"Normally when you give blood you will be told you can't come back for about 120 days to donate again," he said.
"When you give someone back the red blood cells they could actually re-donate within two weeks."
The company have just completed successful clinical trials on the product with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.
Mr Maher said they are now preparing for field testing with the possibility of going into production early next year.
The news comes as scientists reported a breakthrough in development of an Ebola vaccine in the US.
Reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists said the experimental vaccine produced an immune response in all 20 healthy volunteers who received it and caused no serious side effects.
Nearly 5,700 people have now died in the worst outbreak of the virus in history.