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(New York Times) – The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the first system that could be used by blood banks to destroy viruses and bacteria in donated blood plasma, potentially making transfusions safer.

The system represents an extra safety step beyond testing donations for viruses like H.I.V. and hepatitis C, and one that can protect against pathogens that seem to emerge periodically, as well as the known ones.

“You can’t test for something unless you know what it is,” said William M. Greenman, the chief executive of Cerus, the company that developed the product, which is known as the Intercept Blood System. He said Intercept was “much more comprehensive than what you would be able to achieve with testing.”

The product is being used in a clinical trial in West Africa to make plasma donated by Ebola survivors safer to use as a possible treatment for people who still have the disease.

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