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This website is intended for carers and patients living with haemophilia.
In the early days of haemophilia treatment, factor replacements for either factor VIII or IX were made from plasma from blood donors. Although these concentrates were effective this was in the days before we knew about transmission of diseases through blood donations, and this led to the transmission of viruses such as HIV and hepatitis.
Following this, scientists were keen to research improved versions of these treatments, to avoid the risk of infection. One approach was to be very selective about plasma donors, and improvements in how plasma is tested and processed to prevent transmission of infection. The other approach is to produce the protein in a way that does not need blood donations.
The process for making these factors involves inserting a small piece of human DNA into a cell from another animal, and growing these cells in large numbers. The process of adding in a specific gene is called “recombination”, so the factors made this way are known as recombinant proteins. As the cells grow they produce factor VIII or IX which can then be purified and stabilised as a powder.