While blood safety has greatly improved in recent years, current testing still cannot completely eliminate the chance that the virus that causes AIDS will be transmitted during a transfusion. But researchers at the New York Blood Center and New York University Medical Center say recent lab experiments have found that the antiviral compound hypericin is able to inactivate completely HIV in whole-blood supplies with no adverse effects on blood chemistry. VIMRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Stamford, Conn., which makes hypericin, says the compound is being tested to determine if it can also inactivate a broad range of other blood-borne viruses, such as hepatitis and cytomegalovirus, which can cause severe disease in newborns. Phase I trials have already shown hypericin to be safe in humans when transmitted intravenously, and VIMRx says it plans to apply for Food & Drug Administration licensing in 1995.
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