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Partnership to Initiate Development of Whole Blood Pathogen Inactivation for Sub-Saharan Africa

  Partnership to Initiate Development of Whole Blood Pathogen Inactivation for   Sub-Saharan Africa  Business Wire  CONCORD, Calif. -- March 26, 2014  Cerus Corporation (NASDAQ: CERS) announcedtoday that the Humanitarian Foundation Swiss Red Cross has granted funds to Swiss Tranfusion SRC (Blutspende SRK Schweiz) to adapt the INTERCEPT Blood System for red blood cells for pathogen inactivation and transfusion of whole blood, specifically for sub-Saharan African countries. The initial funding of 1.5 million Swiss Francs will support the feasibility phase of the project and completion of in vitro studies to support patient clinical trials.  Cerus is a key collaborator together with the SRTS Geneva, located in the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG), and Swiss Transfusion SRC (Blutspende SRK Schweiz) to enable the use of Cerus’ INTERCEPT technology to demonstrate the technical feasibility of pathogen inactivation (PI) in whole blood. Unlike developed countries, where platelet, plasma or red cell components are transfused, the common practice in many African countries is to transfuse whole blood.  “We believe pathogen inactivation for whole blood has the potential to improve the safety of transfusions in sub-Saharan Africa, where diminished blood availability due to severe anemia from malaria, HIV and obstetric bleeding is common,” said Dr. Rudolf Schwabe, chief executive officer of the Swiss Red Cross. “Based on our experience over the past three years with the INTERCEPT System, we have seen first-hand the substantial impact that pathogen inactivation has had in reducing transfusion transmitted infectious risk in platelets and plasma; this technology should be made available to developing countries such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, where the risk of bacterial contamination is about 2,500 times greater than in Switzerland, and ten to fifteen percent of HIV infections are caused by contaminated transfusions.”  In addition to well-known transfusion-transmitted pathogens such as HIV, HBV, HCV and bacteria, risk remains high due to pathogens that are endemic to African countries such as chikungunya, dengue, malaria, and Leishmania, for which screening assays may not be readily available.  "The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that safety of the blood supply is a priority for all countries and a particular challenge in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr. Edward Kelley, Acting Director for Service Delivery and Safety at WHO. “Though not the only initiative in this area globally, this project has particular promise and WHO has a history of working with the University of Geneva Hospitals and Swiss blood safety colleagues to advance safety priorities in Africa. We will be following the progress of the project with great interest."  “We are excited to collaborate with SRTS Geneva and SRC in developing a whole blood pathogen inactivation system that can be sustainable in lesser developed regions which may not have the infrastructure to support complex devices or have access to controlled temperature storage. By leveraging our experience using the S-303 pathogen inactivation technology in red cell components, we hope to be able to develop a system for whole blood that does not require electricity to inactivate pathogens or leukocytes that may be present in whole blood,” said William ‘Obi’ Greenman, Cerus’ president and chief executive officer. “Maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa is commonly a function of hemorrhagic complications from childbirth, and we believe that this technology has the potential to play a meaningful role in improving blood safety and availability in the region and, correspondingly, improve patient outcomes.”  ABOUT CERUS  Cerus Corporation is a biomedical products company focused in the field of blood safety. Cerus currently markets and sells the INTERCEPT Blood System for both platelets and plasma in Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East and selected countries in other regions around the world. In the United States, Cerus is seeking regulatory approval of the INTERCEPT Blood System for plasma and platelets. The INTERCEPT red blood cell system is in clinical development. See http://www.cerus.com for more information.  INTERCEPT and the INTERCEPT Blood System are trademarks of Cerus Corporation.  This press release contains forward-looking statements. Any statements contained in this press release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements relating to the intended collaborative activities of the parties and the outcome of such collaborative activities, the potential efficacy, development and clinical evaluation of an INTERCEPT system adapted for use with whole blood and the potential impact that a pathogen inactivation system for whole blood could have on blood safety and availability and patient outcomes in the sub-Saharan region. These forward-looking statements are based upon Cerus’ current expectations. Actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors, including, without limitation, risks associated with development and clinical evaluation of the INTERCEPT system for whole blood and for red blood cells, the risk that available funding may not be available to support whole blood-related activities under the proposed collaboration, risks associated with dependence on third-party potential collaborators to support whole blood-related development activities and other risks detailed in the Cerus' filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including in Cerus' annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013, filed with the SEC on March 7, 2014. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Cerus does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events, changed assumptions or otherwise.  Contact:  Cerus Corporation Lainie Corten, 925-288-6319 Sr Director, Global Marketing & Investor Relations  
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