Winner - Editor's Choice

Laurence M. Corash, M.D.; Co-founder & Chief Medical Officer, Cerus Corporation; Concord, California

Sunday, July 01, 2001
RELATED TAGS: BIOTECHNOLOGY


Innovation - Helinx, Nucleic Acid-Targeting Technology

Making blood safe. This innovation promises an almost unimaginable advance in basic medicine and health— a technology that inactivates known and emerging viruses and other pathogens in the world's blood supply. In the United States, blood is only screened for six specific viruses and one bacterium. Pathogens that cause such diseases as cytomegalovirus, Kaposi's sarcoma, sepsis, Lyme disease, and malaria routinely escape detection. In developing nations, an estimated 13 million units of completely untested blood are transfused each year, much of it potentially tainted with HIV.

This winning technology, known as Helinx, uses compounds that target and react with DNA and RNA to inactivate disease-causing organisms. The first application of the Helinx technology, the Intercept Blood Systems, exploits the fact that while blood components such as red blood cells, plasma, and platelets do not contain nucleic acids, viruses and bacteria do. Consequently, by exposing Helinx-treated blood to UV light or a chemical catalyst, DNA and RNA in the viruses and bacteria are "zipped-up," and are rendered incapable of reproducing. The therapeutic qualities of the blood, however, remain intact. Helinx applications are also being developed in the areas of cancer, hematological disorders, and various vaccines.

Biography

Dr. Corash co-founded Cerus Corporation in 1991 and now serves as Chief Medical Officer. He had previously been a professor and physician at the University of California at San Francisco and, before that, chief of hematology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Dr. Corash was born in Bennington, Vermont, in 1944. He earned his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College and his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He received additional training in internal medicine at Bellevue Hospital and New York University Hospital, both in New York City. Dr. Corash is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine; The American Board of Internal Medicine, Hematology; and the American Board of Pathology, Hematology.

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