25 highlights of 25 years of Sanquin's knowledge institute

Sanquin is so much more than a blood bank! We have a long history in academic research and innovations that improve diagnosis and treatment of patients. 25 of Sanquin's important and special investigations and discoveries:

  1. We developed the 'sampling bag', which attached to the blood bag, collects the first 30 ml of a donation. This prevents contamination of the blood product with bacteria from the skin, and is used for donor screening for blood-borne infections. Not surprisingly, this pre-donation sampling bag has been copied worldwide to blood bag systems!
  2. Matching the blood of girls and women who need a blood transfusion to more blood groups than AB0 and RhD, can be life-saving for their future babies. It will prevent that in a future pregnancy mothers will produce antibodies against their baby's blood. This may cause anemia which can make their babies seriously ill. Sanquin has demonstrated this with research that has taken over 20 years to complete.
  3. We developed a test that allows determination of the RhD (rhesus D) blood group of the fetus from the mother's blood. As a result, 40% of pregnant women who used to receive anti-D to prevent alloimmunization, no longer need to receive it.
  4. For many years Sanquin has been committed to helping children with neuroblastoma. By developing tests that detect minimal residual disease and research into new therapies, we are contributing to a better perspective for children with this aggressive form of childhood cancer.
  5. We played an important role in the fight against corona by monitoring  antibodies against the virus in the blood of our donors.
  6. Sanquin’s immediate action to conduct tests to identify a very rare, life-threatening side effect of corona vaccines was crucial to be able to initiate the right treatment for patients.
  7. We developed an easy finger prick test that allowed patients with a weakened immune system to sample blood at home and send it to our lab. Sanquin tested whether they built up sufficient defense against the coronavirus after vaccination. This healthcare innovation will be further implemented for diagnostic purpose.
  8. Our Laboratory for Cell Therapy contributes to the treatment of melanoma with TIL therapy. We culture and expand patients' immune cells to fight their tumors.
  9. We have developed several tests to measure drug levels of biologics - antibody-based drugs -, as well as any antibodies against the biologicals, which could make therapy less effective. This enables personalized dozing, which may result in lower cost, less adverse reactions or a timely switch to other medications.
  10. The lives of many rabbits are spared thanks to our MAT: the Monocyte Activation Test. This pyrogen test replaces animal experiments for safety-testing of injectable drugs on fever-inducing compounds.
  11. We help patients suffering from extremely dry eyes by producing effective eye drops made from serum derived from donor blood.
  12. Together with researchers at the Amsterdam UMC-AMC, we are developing a therapy using immune cells to treat graft-versus-host disease, a frequently-occurring serious complication of stem cell transplantation.
  13. We are conducting research on culturing blood from blood stem cells. In the future, this may rescue patients who have formed so many antibodies that matching donor blood is hardly available.
  14. With our increasing knowledge on stem cells, we aim to cure patients with congenital blood diseases by giving them improved blood-forming stem cells that can produce healthy red blood cells.
  15. For hemophilia patients, treated with Factor VIII, we are investigating the formation of inhibitors to their medication., which may make therapy less effective. It will facilitate tailored therapy.
  16. Together with Tilburg University, we developed a serious game that counteracts the fear of needles. It will help donors, children, anyone who is afraid to visit a physician or dentist.
  17. With a team of international researchers, we discovered that platelet transfusions to premature babies may be safer when given at lower platelet concentrations. The transfusion strategy for these babies was adjusted accordingly.
  18. We developed an assay to test donors in high-risk areas for the presence of Q fever bacteria during the outbreak of this disease. This way we ensured the safety of blood products and contributed to epidemiological knowlegde of the disease.
  19. The Bladder EpiCheck performed at Sanquin Diagnostics aids bladder cancer patients: it reduces the need for painful examinations.
  20. We investigated obstacles and motivations for ethnic minority groups to become and remain blood donors. In order to provide matching blood for all patients, it is necessary that these groups are better represented in our donor population.
  21. How do white blood cells manage to crawl through the vessel wall to fight pathogens in the tissues? By studying that, we can better understand inflammatory responses, which in turn helps to develop drugs to better manage inflammation.
  22. We have been investigating Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) for many years. This way we contribute to better diagnostics and new treatments to control this rare blood disease.
  23. Newly emerging blood-borne infections can jeopardize the safety of the blood supply: we are continuously monitoring which microorganisms pose a threat and what measures we can take to guarantee a safe blood supply.
  24. We support pharmaceutical companies with the development of new medications, by measuring their effects on blood cells and by developing customized tests.
  25. Using math to help patients. Is it possible? Researchers with a math background design algorithms that aim to smarter distribute blood among patients. By holding a bag of blood with rare blood groups just a little longer, patient who needs it the hardest will profit.

And this list is far from complete! Connect to us on LinkedIn or keep up with our news on our website.