Back to Contents page






Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome


A disease which damages the ability of humans to fight off other infections which was first reported in the USA in 1981. The disease is caused by a blood-borne virus, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)


A measure of the amount of active coagulation factor e.g. Factor VIII. Usually expressed in International Units (IU) where 1 IU is the amount present in 1 millilitre of blood of a normal person

Acute Hepatitis

Inflammation of the liver, often caused by a hepatitis virus. Onset of symptoms and disturbance of LFTs usually fairly abrupt. May have one of three outcomes: complete recovery within six months, continuation beyond six months (by definition this is called “chronic hepatitis”), or death

Adverse Reaction

A reaction to a medicinal product which is unwanted and which may be dangerous. The onset of an adverse reaction may be sudden or may develop over time

Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens


A committee of experts (established in 1981) whose role is to advise the Health and Safety Executive, Ministers for the Department of Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and their devolved counterparts on all aspects of hazards and risks to workers and others from exposure to pathogens

Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs


A committee of experts which advises the UK Government and the devolved administrations on the most appropriate ways of ensuring the safety of blood, cells, tissues and organs for transfusion/transplantation. It is the successor of the ACVSB

Advisory Committee on Transfusion Transmitted Infections


A committee of experts (established in 1989) appointed by UK blood transfusion services to give advice on specific topics relating to the safety of donated blood as regards viral infections. Concerned primarily with the practical implementation of national policy

Advisory Committee on Virological Safety of Blood


A committee of experts (established in 1989) appointed by the Department of Health to give advice on specific topics relating to the safety of donated blood with respect to viral infections. Concerned primarily with national policy. Subsequently re-named The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs’ (MSBTO), and in turn, superseded by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs (SaBTO)

Advisory Group on Testing for the Presence of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen and its Antibody

Advisory body (established in 1970) to advise the Departments of Health on screening blood donations for the presence of Hepatitis B. Known at its formation as the Advisory Group on Testing for the Presence of Australia Antigen and its Antibody


The science dealing with the causes or origins of disease. Often used in medical texts as shorthand for “cause”

Affinity Chromatography

A method by which one protein is separated from a mixture of proteins using a special substance (which is attached to a solid matrix). Used in the preparation of some coagulation factor concentrates from the late-1980s. When the special substance is a monoclonal antibody it is referred to as ‘immuno-affinity’ chromatography

Alanine Aminotransferase


A protein synthesised in liver cells, normally present in low amounts in the blood. Inflammation of the liver, caused by infection by liver viruses, or many disorders of the liver, may lead to “leakage” of ALT and consequent elevation of levels in the blood


A major protein circulated in the bloodstream and is the key to the osmotic pressure of blood. Albumin levels can be low in cases of malnutrition, diseases of the kidneys and the liver. Albumin is extracted from blood donations and utilised in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions

Alpha Interferon

A member of the Interferon class of proteins that occur naturally in the body, but which can also be manufactured as a drug. The drug is used to treat a variety of medical conditions including cancer and in the treatment of hepatitis in conjunction with other antiviral drugs

Amino acid

A class of organic chemical compounds that combine to build proteins. Twenty standard amino acids in various combinations make up all of the proteins of the human body

Anicteric hepatitis

A mild form of hepatitis in which there is no jaundice (icterus). Symptoms include anorexia, and slight fever. ALT levels are often elevated. In the absence of jaundice the infection may be mistaken for influenza


When bones of a joint are fused, stiff or rigid


A protein produced as part of the body’s immune response to a ‘foreign invader’. Depending on the infectious agent, antibodies may be effective at eliminating the foreign invader; in other cases the antibody will be less effective. A reactive antibody to a virus, such as Hepatitis C virus, means that the person may at some stage have been infected with the virus. It does not necessarily indicate present infection


A substance that delays the clotting of blood


A foreign agent that stimulates the formation of antibodies as part of the body’s immune response

Anti-haemophiliac factor


An outdated term previously used to describe Factor VIII

Anti-haemophiliac globulin


An outdated term previously used to describe Factor VIII

Anti-HBc test

A test that detects antibodies to Hepatitis B core antigen


A procedure in which whole blood is removed from a patient or donor, separated into different components and then re-transfused into the patient or donor


A laboratory test used for detecting or measuring a specific substance


Without symptoms, e.g. hepatitis without clinical symptoms such as jaundice or malaise

Autoimmune Hepatitis

A disease in which the body’s immune system attacks liver cells, causing inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). If not treated, autoimmune hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis (scarring and hardening) of the liver and eventually to liver failure



A product which results from the breakdown of haemoglobin (i.e. the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen), normally cleared from the blood by the liver and excreted in bile. Moderate to high levels of billirubin are often encountered in persons with hepatitis


A complex mixture of specialised cells (red, white and platelets), proteins and other molecules whose functions include the transport of oxygen and nutrients to body tissue, removal of carbon dioxide and other waste products, and prevention of bleeding and infection

Blood Component

A constituent of blood (red cells, white cells, platelets, plasma) intended for transfusion

Blood product

Any therapeutic product derived from whole blood or plasma

Blood Products Laboratory


The NHS facility at which plasma products for England and Wales were manufactured (now called the Bio Products Laboratory)

Blood Products Unit

BPU (Edinburgh)

The original name for the SNBTS facility where plasma products were manufactured. The name was later changed to Protein Fractionation Centre (PFC)

Blood Transfusion

The transfer of blood or blood components to an individual

British Blood Transfusion Society


A learned society (established in 1983) whose main objective is to advance the study of all aspects of blood transfusion and to promote research and development

British Society for Haemostasis and Thrombosis


A learned society (established in 1980) concerned with blood coagulation in the UK

British Society for Haematology


A learned society (established in 1960) which represents the interests of haematologists (doctors specialising in blood conditions) in the UK


Candidiasis-mucosal Infection

A yeast-like fungal infection occurring on the skin or mucous membranes. Common in persons with HIV/AIDS


A marker denoting a helper T-lymphocyte, the type of cell susceptible to HIV infection

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


A US government agency responsible for monitoring infectious diseases and responding to public health emergencies. First to report the outbreak of AIDS

Central Legal Office


A division of NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) which provides legal services to the Scottish Health Service


A mechanical process for separating solids from liquids by spinning the mixture at high speed in a rotating chamber causing the solid particles to settle on the wall of the chamber. Used extensively in plasma fractionation to collect protein precipitate fractions


A process for separating proteins from one another by passing them through a bed of solid particles to which specific chemicals have been attached which bind selected proteins. After the separation has been completed, the bound proteins are removed (eluted) by adding a substance which detaches the bound proteins from the solid matrix. Applied to the preparation of Factor IX concentrates from the early 1970s and to the preparation of Factor VIII concentrates from the late 1980s. Types of chromatography used in plasma fractionation include Ion Exchange Chromatography, Affinity Chromatography and Immuno-Affinity Chromatography

Chronic Hepatitis

Hepatitis (liver inflammation) which is present for six months or more, often defined by raised liver function tests (see ALT)


Irreversible scarring of the liver that may occur as a consequence of chronic hepatitis, such as Hepatitis C, or due to other causes e.g. alcohol abuse

Clinical Trial Exemption


A scheme for clinical trials carried out under the auspices of the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (formerly the Medicines Control Agency). The CTX scheme was less onerous than the Clinical Trial (CT) scheme by which new drug substances are tested. The CTX scheme was replaced by the Clinical Trial Authorisation (CTA) scheme in 2004

Clotting factor

Substance in blood necessary to promote coagulation


The process of blood clotting following cut or injury


A group of people with a common statistical characteristic

Cold-ethanol Fractionation

The principal method used to separate plasma proteins into major groups (fractions) according to differences in their solubility. The method was devised by Dr Edwin J Cohn and co-workers and is sometimes known as Cohn fractionation

Committee on Safety of Medicines


The body which advised UK Ministers and the UK Licensing Authority on matters relating to human medicinal products. Established under the Medicines Act 1968. Merged with the Medicines Commission in 2005 to form the Commission on Human Medicines

Committee on Safety of Medicines, Biologicals Sub-Committee

A sub-committee of the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) which advised on the licensing of biopharmaceutical products, including blood products

Common Services Agency


The body within the National Health Service in Scotland responsible for the administration of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS). Created in 1974, now known as NHS National Services Scotland (NSS)


A product in which treatment can be provided in a reduced volume, enabling a suitable dose of product to be administered without overloading the circulation of the patient. Used to refer to concentrates of coagulation factors for the treatment of haemophilia


Existing from birth


A form of Factor VIII concentrated plasma first discovered by Dr. Judith Graham Poole in 1965. It is formed when frozen plasma is thawed and contains about 70% of the Factor VIII present in the starting plasma (the other 30% remains in the cryo-depleted plasma; the cryosupernatant). Cryoprecipitate can be dissolved in a smaller volume than the volume of plasma that it was prepared from, thereby concentrating the Factor VIII about 10-fold over plasma and providing a crude ‘concentrate’ for the treatment of people with Haemophilia A


A product which remains when Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) is processed to make cryoprecipitate. It contains plasma proteins and other clotting factors. It can be used for all of the same indications as FFP except for Haemophilia A and von Willebrand disease


Deoxyribonucleic Acid


Molecules inside cells that carry genetic information, passing it on from one generation to the next

Department of Health


UK Government body responsible for the National Health Service. Previously known as the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS)

Department of Health and Social Security


See reference to “Department of Health” above



A synthetic hormone used to treat some people with mild haemophilia or von Willebrand disease. The product acts to increase the natural Factor VIII levels or von Willebrand factor levels in blood

Donor Selection

The process by which high risk blood donors (e.g. those whose blood may carry viruses) are excluded from the blood donation process

Dry-heat Treatment

The heating of freeze-dried coagulation factor concentrates (in a specially manufactured oven) in order to inactivate viruses



Involving or passing through the intestine, either naturally via the mouth and oesophagus, or through an artificial opening


An outer covering possessed by many, but not all, viruses


Any of a group of catalytic proteins produced by living cells that mediate and promote the chemical processes of life without themselves being altered or destroyed

Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay


An assay in which the presence of an antigen or an antibody can be detected via an immunochemical reaction in which the colour of the reaction mixture changes when the relevant antigen or antibody is present. Tests of this type were devised to identify the presence of antibodies to HIV and to HCV in blood samples


The scientific discipline concerned with the prevalence, incidence and distribution of disease in a population

Epstein Barr Virus


Also called human herpes virus 4 (HHV-4). A possible, but not scientifically proven, cancer causing virus of the herpes family, which includes herpes simplex virus 1 and 2. EBV is one of the most common viruses in humans and occurs worldwide

Experts Advisory Group on AIDS


A non-departmental public body (established in 1985) to provide the UK Health Departments with expert advice on matters relating to HIV and AIDS


Factors I-XII

A classification of the multiple factors involved in blood coagulation

Factor I (one)

Fibrinogen. A poorly soluble, adherent protein which constituted about 60% of the protein present in factor VIII concentrates (intermediate-purity) and in cryoprecipitate. Also manufactured as a product in its own right but discontinued because the risk of hepatitis was greater than with occasional use of cryoprecipitate

Factor II (two)


Prothrombin. A blood coagulation factor present in DEFIX, an SNBTS coagulation factor concentrate that was used in the treatment of Haemophilia B and other disorders of coagulation

Factor VII (seven)


A blood coagulation factor present in many concentrates for the treatment of Haemophilia B and other coagulation disorders, but absent from DEFIX

Factor VIII (eight)


A blood coagulation factor which is lacking in people with Haemophilia A. Factor VIII is a protein which is present in trace quantities in the plasma of normal people e.g. accounting for about 6 parts per million (ppm) of the total protein present in normal human plasma

Factor VIII Activity (or Factor VIII unit)


The ability of factor VIII to clot the plasma of a person with Haemophilia A. Used to measure the amount of active factor VIII. Expressed as a unit of activity per millilitre
(IU/mL). In theory, the blood of a normal person should contain 1 IU/mL of factor VIII activity

Factor VIII Antigen


The ability of factor VIII to react with an antibody to the factor VIII protein. Used to measure the total amount of factor VIII, both active and inactive

Factor VIII Concentrate


A pharmaceutical preparation for the treatment of Haemophilia A which contains a measured amount of factor VIII activity, partially purified, concentrated, dispensed into vials and freeze dried. Manufactured at an industrial-scale from large volumes of plasma. Now also manufactured from animal cells which have been transformed by genetic engineering to produce human factor VIII (recombinant factor VIII)

Factor VIII Related-Antigen


The ability of a sample of factor VIII to react with an antibody raised against the factor VIII complex. Now known to be the von Willebrand’s factor, a protein which is closely associated with the factor VIII molecule

Factor IX (nine)


A blood coagulation factor which is lacking in people with Haemophilia B

Factor IX Concentrate


A pharmaceutical preparation for the treatment of Haemophilia B which contains a measured amount of FIX activity, partially purified, concentrated, dispensed into vials and freeze dried. Manufactured at an industrial-scale from large volumes of plasma. Now also manufactured from animal cells which have been transformed by genetic engineering to produce human factor IX (recombinant factor IX)

Factor X (ten)


A blood coagulation factor present in DEFIX, an SNBTS coagulation factor concentrate used in the treatment of Haemophilia B and other disorders of coagulation

Factor VIII Inhibitor Bypass Activity


Activated prothrombin complex


The protein from which is generated fibrin. Fibrin is polymerised to form a ‘mesh’ that forms a haemostatic plug or clot (in conjunction with platelets) over a wound site


A group of viruses to which Hepatitis C belongs

Food and Drug Administration


Since 1972, the principal regulatory agency in the United States of America with respect to blood and blood products


The process of extracting and separating individual proteins from blood plasma to obtain a number of different medicinal products. Originally used to describe a process devised by EJ Cohn in the early 1940s in which human plasma proteins were separated according to differences in their solubility in the presence of ethanol. Often used to describe the complete pharmaceutical process (or industry) by which blood plasma products are manufactured

Freeze Drying

A method of stabilising biological substances by a process of dehydration in which water is transferred directly from the frozen state (ice) to the gaseous state (sublimation) by heating at a reduced pressure. Used to stabilise coagulation factor concentrates

Fresh Frozen Plasma


Plasma that has been frozen within a specific time after collection and stored in a frozen state to preserve the activity of unstable coagulation factors (e.g. Factor VIII). Used as the starting material for the preparation of Factor VIII and Factor IX concentrates. Also used as a clinical product in its own right


Gamma Globulin

A major class of immunoglobulins found in the blood, including many of the most common antibodies circulating in the blood. Also called immunoglobulin G (IgG)

Gastric Varices

Dilated sub mucosal veins in the stomach, which can be a life-threatening cause of upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage. They are most commonly found in patients with portal hypertension, or elevated pressure in the portal vein system, which may be a complication of cirrhosis


The complete set of genes for a particular organism


The genetic constitution of a cell, an organism, or an individual usually with reference to a specific character under consideration



The science of blood, its nature, function and diseases

Haemolytic Reaction

A reaction in the recipient of blood due to the formation of antibodies which result in the destruction of red blood cells


A group of inherited bleeding disorders in which the ability of blood to clot is impaired

Haemophilia Centre Directors (now Doctors) Organisation


A body which co-ordinates the work of Haemophilia Centre Directors in the UK. Holds information on products used to treat patients in the UK since 1969. Originally run from the Oxford Haemophilia Centre; presently managed from the Manchester Haemophilia Centre

Haemophilia A

Deficiency or absence of factor VIII. It has also been called “classic” haemophilia. This is the most common form of haemophilia which is a genetic disorder transmitted by females and manifested almost entirely in males. It is a sex linked disorder because the gene coding for factor VIII is present on the X chromosome. Approximately 30% of Haemophilia A cases are not inherited but are thought to result from spontaneous mutations in the gene coding for factor VIII. This non-inherited form also primarily affects males. The clinical severity of haemophilia depends on the amount of functional factor VIII the patient can produce

Haemophilia B

A deficiency or absence of factor IX. It has also been called “Christmas Disease”, after the first family that was identified with the condition. Haemophilia B is the second most common type of haemophilia

Haemophilia Society

A UK organisation which represents people with bleeding disorders. Formed in 1950 and a founder member of the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH). The Haemophilia Society has produced numerous publications with advice for people with haemophilia, has been consulted by government ministers and has attended meetings of the HCDO since the mid 1970s


Stopping bleeding

Health Protection Agency


A non-departmental body (established in 2003) responsible for the protection of public health in the UK. Incorporates the Public Health Laboratory Service and (since 2009) the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control

Health Protection Scotland


The Scottish body (established in 2005) equivalent to HPA and a division of NHS National Services Scotland. Formerly known as the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health


Inflammation of the liver. May be due to one of many causes, including infection with a blood-borne virus. The condition can be self-limiting (healing on its own) or can progress to fibrosis (scarring) and cirrhosis

Hepatitis A (Infectious Hepatitis)


A viral disease of the liver that is primarily transmitted by the faecal-oral route. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, nausea, and jaundice. Hepatitis A typically resolves on its own and does not become chronic. There is no standard treatment for Hepatitis A, but an effective vaccine is available. The Hepatitis A virus was identified in 1973

Hepatitis B (Serum Hepatitis)


A viral disease of the liver. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne disease, but may also be transmitted sexually or vertically from mother to child. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, and elevated liver enzymes. Hepatitis B becomes chronic in about 5-10% of infected adults. Standard treatments for Hepatitis B are Interferon and lamivudine; an effective vaccine is available. The Hepatitis B virus was identified in 1964 in the blood of an Australian aborigine and was also known as ‘the Australian antigen’

Hepatitis B Core Antigen


An antigen associated with the Hepatitis B virus

Hepatitis B Surface Antigen


An antigen associated with the Hepatitis B virus, used in tests to screen blood donations for hepatitis

Hepatitis C

A blood-borne infectious disease affecting the liver, caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection is often asymptomatic but, once established, chronic infection can progress to scarring of the liver (fibrosis), and advanced scarring (cirrhosis) which is generally only apparent after many years. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure or other complications of cirrhosis, including liver cancer or life threatening oesophageal varices and gastric varices

Hepatitis C Virus


A small, enveloped, single-stranded, positive sense RNA virus that causes Hepatitis C. There are six major genotypes of the Hepatitis C virus, which are indicated numerically (e.g., genotype 1, genotype 2)

Hepatitis D (Delta Hepatitis)


A viral disease of the liver. Hepatitis D is caused by a blood-borne virus that only causes disease in people co- infected with Hepatitis B. Symptoms are identical to those of Hepatitis B

Hepatitis E (Enteric Hepatitis)


A viral disease of the liver. Hepatitis E is spread through the faecal-oral route. It is more common in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is usually mild, but may be severe and possibly fatal in pregnant women

Hepatitis G Virus


A virus first identified in 1995 that is genetically related to the Hepatitis C virus but which does not cause hepatitis and is not known to be responsible for any disease

Hepatocellular Carcinoma


A primary malignancy (cancer) of the liver. Most cases of HCC are secondary to either a viral infection (Hepatitis B or C) or cirrhosis (alcoholism being the most common cause of hepatic cirrhosis). In countries where hepatitis is not endemic, most malignant cancers in the liver are not primary HCC but metastasis (spread) of cancer from elsewhere in the body


The branch of pathology that deals with the tissue diagnosis of disease. The tissue on which the diagnosis is made is material taken from a patient (a “biopsy”) to detect and diagnose disease, examine disease progression, including the response to treatment or lack of response, and to establish the cause in cases of sudden or unexpected death

Human Immunodeficiency Virus


A lentivirus (a member of the retrovirus family) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which the immune system fails, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections

Human T-cell lymphotropic Virus-III


A former name for HIV




Immune Response

The reaction of the immune system of the body to substances that are interpreted as ‘foreign’ (e.g. viruses). Often results in the formation of a specific antibody (known as the humoral response). Another important aspect concerns changes to the cells of the immune system (known as the cellular response)

Immune System

Various cells and proteins that work together to fight infectious diseases. Includes the formation of antibodies against an infectious agent, which can prevent infection, and which usually remain for the rest of the person’s life to give life-long immunity. Not all antibodies succeed in destroying the infectious agent; antibodies to HIV are an example of this failure


Breakdown or inability of certain parts of the immune system to function thereby making a person more susceptible to diseases that they would not normally develop


A preparation of antibodies used to prevent or treat infections


Condition of having a lowered resistance to disease. May be a temporary result of lowered white blood cells


Suppression of the immune system. Immuno-suppression may result from certain diseases such as AIDS or lymphoma or from certain drugs such as some drugs used to treat cancer


The number of new cases of a disease or condition occurring during a defined period of time in a defined population

Incubation Period

The period of time between a person being exposed to an infectious agent and the start of noticeable symptoms of the related disease


An antibody to Factor VIII (or Factor IX) which can form in the circulation of haemophilia patients being treated with a coagulation factor concentrate. The development of an inhibitor is a serious complication of haemophilia treatment as the antibody prevents the factor VIII which has been administered from working



Naturally occurring proteins made and released by lymphocytes in response to the presence of pathogens–such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites–or tumour cells. They allow communication between cells to trigger the protective defences of the immune system that eradicate pathogens or tumours. Interferon is so named because of its ability to interfere with virus reproduction

International units


A measurement of biological (functional) activity (e.g. factor VIII activity) based on a comparison with a defined international standard preparation. Determined by expert laboratories (e.g. WHO or the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control) in collaboration with other scientists. The unitage of factor VIII activity was originally based on the assumption that the plasma of a normal person contains 1IU/mL of factor VIII activity. Important in determining the amount in a vial, the amount of treatment given and measurements of process yield and manufacturing output



Yellow staining of the skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes) due to abnormally high blood levels of the bile pigment bilirubin. The yellowing extends to other tissues and body fluids. Jaundice can indicate liver or gallbladder disease. When the excretion of bilirubin is hindered, excess bilirubin passes into the blood, resulting in jaundice. Inflammation or other abnormalities of liver cells hinder the excretion of bilirubin into bile


Kaposi’s Sarcoma


A type of cancer, causing growths or lesions mainly under the skin or lining of the mouth, nose, throat and other organs. It differs from other cancers as it starts in multiple areas of the body at one time. KS can develop in people whose immune system has been severely weakened by HIV or AIDS



Otherwise known as white blood cells, they form part of the body’s immune system and help fight infections and disease

Liver Biopsy

A procedure in which a small portion of liver tissue is removed to identify liver disease

Liver Enzymes

Proteins that take part in many chemical reactions in the liver

Liver Function Tests


Blood tests used to evaluate various functions of the liver, for example, metabolism, storage, filtration and excretion, which are often performed by liver enzymes



Lymphadenopathy Associated virus

A former name for HIV


Type of white blood cell, which play an integral part in the body’s immune defence system. Two main types of lymphocytes exit – T cells and B cells. T cells attack the body’s own cells once they have been infected by a virus and B cells make antibodies which attack the virus itself


Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency


Set up in April 2003 as a result of a merger of the Medicines Control Agency and the Medical Devices Agency. The MHRA is a governmental agency responsible for ensuring that all medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe

Medicines Inspectorate

Established within the Medicines Division of the DHSS in 1971 in accordance with the Medicines Acts 1968 and 1971. It was set up to inspect and ensure compliance with Standard Provisions by all applicants for, and holders of, manufacturer’s and wholesale dealer’s licences in the UK

Monoclonal Antibodies

Homogeneous antibodies developed from clones of a single cell, they have been used in the preparation of coagulation factor concentrates since the late 1980s


National Blood Transfusion Service


The NHS body which managed the blood transfusion service in England and Wales. It later became the National Blood Authority which, in turn, became the National Blood Service

National Institute for Biological Standards & Control


Since 2009, has been part of the Health Protection Agency. It provides independent testing of biological medicines in the UK

Non A Non B Hepatitis


A term used from about 1975 to describe presumed hepatitis infections, which were known not to be caused by Hepatitis A or B. The majority of the NANBH cases were caused by what is now known as Hepatitis C, however other hepatitis causing viruses have since been discovered – Hepatitis D, E and G - and others may yet remain undiscovered



Not entering the body through the intestine but through another route


A method of heat treatment used to destroy micro-organisms in biological materials. It involves heating the host solution in the liquid form, often with the aid of chemical stabilisers to protect the product from heat damage

Pegylated Interferon

Peg IfN

An antiviral drug in which polyethylene glycol is added to make Interferon last longer in the body. It is widely used in conjunction with Ribavirin for the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C


The liquid component of blood which makes up about half of its volume. It does not contain cells but contains proteins (including albumin, antibodies and clotting factors) as well as hormones, fats, dissolved salts and gasses. It is made into medications for a variety of blood-related conditions

Plasma Fractionation

A process whereby the proteins in plasma are separated into different fractions including Factor VIII and Factor IX

Plasma Fractionation Laboratory


A specialised facility in Oxford for the preparation of coagulation factor concentrates for the NHS in England. Used as a pilot plant for the development of coagulation factor concentrates for BPL. It closed in 1992

Plasma Protein Solution


A plasma product whose composition is not less than 85% albumin. Used interchangeably with albumin. It is also known as Plasma Protein Fraction (PFF), Stable Plasma Protein Solution (SPPS) and Stable Plasma Protein Fraction (SPPF)


Cells present in blood which are involved in the blood clotting process

Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia


An organism which results in opportunistic infections in individuals with a weakened immune system, resulting in a lung infection. Often occurring in individuals with HIV or AIDS

Polymerase Chain Reaction


An amplification technique which allows the duplication of very small amounts of genetic material to an amount large enough to be analysed


The number of cases of a disease present in a particular population at a given time


A medication or treatment used to prevent a disease or medical condition from occurring e.g. the regular administration of Factor VIII to a person with haemophilia to raise their Factor VIII to a level which would prevent bleeding if an injury occurred


A large molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order determined by the base sequence of nucleotides in the DNA coding for the protein. Proteins are required for the structure, function and regulation of the body’s cells, tissues and organs. Examples of proteins include enzymes, hormones and antibodies

Protein Fractionation Centre


The Edinburgh facility of the SNBTS used for the manufacture of plasma products for Scotland. It transferred from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to a purpose built facility at Liberton, Edinburgh in 1975 and was decommissioned in 2008


Factor II; an inactive plasma protein which is a precursor of thrombin

Public Health Laboratory Service


A network of laboratories and a surveillance centre established in 1946 to combat epidemics of infectious disease. Now incorporated into the Health Protection Agency


The degree to which a product has been purified in comparison with the starting material from which it was derived


The degree to which a product contains the material of interest



A technique in which a specific area of DNA is isolated and inserted into a host cell facilitating the original DNA segment to be replicated or cloned

Recombinant Immunoblot Assay


Process whereby proteins (for example from HCV) are separated by electrophoresis, adhere to nitrocellulose sheets, and may subsequently be identified by staining with appropriately labelled antibodies

Red Blood Cell

Oxygen and carbon dioxide transporting cells in blood, also known as erythrocytes

Regional Transfusion Centre


The organisational centre in an area (often a region) responsible for the collection, processing, storage and distribution of blood and blood products in that area


An RNA virus (a virus composed not of DNA but of RNA). Retroviruses have an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that gives them the unique property of transcribing RNA (their RNA) into DNA. The retroviral DNA can then integrate into the chromosomal DNA of the host cell to be expressed there. HIV is a retrovirus


An anti-viral drug used to treat chronic Hepatitis C infection in conjunction with Interferon

Ribonucleic Acid


Single strands of genetic information containing instructions for the synthesis of proteins in viruses


Scottish Home and Health Department


Government department responsible for health and other matters in Scotland prior to Devolution in 1998

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service


The body within the NHS in Scotland responsible for the provision of blood and blood products. Administered within NHS National Services Scotland, formerly the Common Services Agency


The proportion of persons with a disease who are correctly identified as positive on testing


The development of antibodies to a particular antigen. Individuals seroconvert from antibody negative to antibody positive


Clear liquid that can be separated from clotted blood

Serum Hepatitis

An early name used for Hepatitis B. Based on the clinical observation that this form of hepatitis was spread by injection of blood serum


The proportion of persons without a disease who are correctly identified as negative on testing

Surrogate Testing

A test used to detect risk of the presence of a disease, used as a substitute and in the absence of a direct test for a disease



A plasma protein which induces clotting by converting fibrinogen to fibrin; its precursor in blood is prothrombin


A potential to cause thrombosis


The concentration of a solution, used to measure levels of antibody against hepatitis


Elevation of liver enzymes (e.g. ALT) due to non-viral factors, such as medication and tissue damage from bleeding, without other clinical evidence of liver inflammation


Viral Load

Measured by quantitative PCR tests to establish the level of viral RNA within a person’s blood. It is often used to monitor progress and measure success of HCV treatment


When virus is present in the blood-stream


A micro orgasm smaller than a bacteria, which cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and to replicate itself

Von Willebrand’s Disease


A group of inherited bleeding disorders in which a clotting protein called von Willebrand factor is deficient or defective. While vWD is the most common type of inherited bleeding disorder, it is usually mild and often does not require treatment. VWD affects both males and females

Von Willebrand’s Factor


A protein necessary for blood coagulation; closely associated with Factor VIII. Originally known as Factor VIII related antigen (RAG). Identified as being distinct from Factor VIII in 1980


White Blood Cells

Cells made by the body to help fight infections. Also known as leukocytes. There are several types of white blood cell, the two most common types being lymphocytes and neutrophils (also called polymorphonuclear leukocytes, PMNs or ‘polys’)

Whole Blood

All of the constituents of blood

World Federation of Haemophilia

An international body which represents the interests of persons with haemophilia

World Health Organisation

The directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system



The amount of product remaining after completion of a manufacturing process



The SNBTS Factor VIII concentrate subject to dry heat treatment at 80 degrees C for 72 hours (issued for clinical use in 1987)


Pasteurised FVIII concentrate developed by the SNBTS until 1983

Back to Contents page