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Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center First in Country to Enroll Patients in Zika-Treated Blood Transfusions Study

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Houston, Texas (June 5, 2018) - Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (Baylor St. Luke’s) is the first hospital in the continental United States to enroll patients in Cerus' RedeS study, a transfusion therapy trial designed to assess the safety and efficacy of a pathogen-inactivation treatment of blood. The RedeS study allows patients who require a transfusion to be given red blood cells treated with a technology that reduces the risk of infection via a blood-borne pathogen such as Zika or West Nile virus.

Cerus, a biomedical products company in the field of blood transfusion safety, chose Baylor St. Luke's to participate in its U.S. clinical trial, in part, because of the diverse patient population and the fact that the Zika virus has been found in Texas. The transfused red blood cells will be treated with RedeS, or the INTERCEPT Blood System, hopefully eliminating any existing pathogens. This study will compare the transfusions of red blood cells that have been treated against conventional red blood cells, especially in areas impacted by the Zika virus.

"The risk of transmission of the Zika virus through blood transfusions is a major concern in Texas and surrounding Gulf Coast states," said Dr. Elizabeth Hartwell, principal investigator for the study and associate professor in the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine and associate medical director in Laboratory Services at Baylor St. Luke's. "This is an incredibly important issue and we are proud to be paving the way for revolutionary research here at Baylor St. Luke's."

While the United States has one of the safest blood supplies in the world, doctors can only test for less than a dozen pathogens – including HIV, hepatitis B and C, West Nile Virus, syphilis, Chagas, and Zika. Overall, there are actually about 1,400 known species of human pathogens – viruses and other organisms that can cause disease in humans – and new pathogens are discovered every year.

Last year 54 cases of Zika were reported in Texas, five of which were presumed to be transmitted by local mosquitoes. There is also increasing evidence of local dengue virus transmission in Texas, particularly near the southern border, due to Mexico’s relatively frequent dengue epidemics.

Currently, while the INTERCEPT Blood System is available in the United States for two other blood products – platelets and plasma – it is not yet available for red cells, which is the most commonly transfused blood product in the world. The INTERCEPT system will be the first pathogen reduction technology approved to treat all three blood components, including platelets, plasma and red blood cells.

The pathology department at Baylor St. Luke’s in Houston’s renowned Texas Medical Center is dedicated to innovative groundbreaking medical research and proud to have been selected to lead this critical study.  

For more information on this trial, contact [email protected].

About the CHI Texas Division

The CHI Texas Division, a member of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), is comprised of three markets―CHI St. Luke’s Health (St. Luke’s) is home of the Texas Heart® Institute (THI),  eight hospitals, eight emergency centers, Diagnostic & Treatment Center, Radiation & CyberKnife® Center, and numerous Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group locations throughout Greater Houston; St. Luke’s Health Memorial (three hospitals and a long-term acute care facility in East Texas); and St. Joseph Health (five hospitals and several St. Joseph Medical Group locations across Brazos Valley). In addition, St. Luke’s is a part of a joint venture agreement with Baylor College of Medicine®, which encompasses Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, the flagship facility and academic medical center of St. Luke’s, in the Texas Medical Center.  Together, St. Luke’s, THI, and Baylor College of Medicine are transforming healthcare delivery with a mission to usher in a new era of healthcare to create healthier communities. For more information, visit

About Catholic Health Initiatives

St. Luke’s Health is a part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), one of the nation’s largest health systems. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, CHI operates in 17 states and comprises 100 hospitals, including three academic health centers and major teaching hospitals; 30 critical-access facilities; community health-services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home-health agencies; and other facilities and services that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care. Learn more at

About Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center

Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is an 881-bed quaternary care academic medical center that is a joint venture between Baylor College of Medicine and St. Luke’s Health. Located in the Texas Medical Center, the hospital is the home of the Texas Heart® Institute, a world-class cardiovascular research and education institution founded in 1962 by Denton A. Cooley, MD—consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best in Cardiovascular Services & Heart Surgery. The hospital was the first facility in Texas and the Southwest designated a Magnet® hospital for Nursing Excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, receiving the award four consecutive times. Baylor St. Luke’s also has three community emergency centers offering adult and pediatric care for the Greater Houston area.