Plasma fractionation or blood plasma fractionation is a process of segregating several components of plasma which is a straw-colored fluid component of the blood. Plasma comprises of a great variety of proteins which also include immunoglobulin, albumin and clotting proteins such as fibrinogen. Such proteins are very vital in many therapeutic and clinical uses and have proved to be of great help when used in production of several medicines. The fractioned plasmas are vastly put to use in extensive medical research to generate therapies and vaccines for chronic diseases such as tumors, cancer and AIDS etc. Therefore, with the objective to gain maximum benefits of such life saving substances, plasma is extracted from the human blood with the help of a procedure known as blood fractionation. Of the total volume of the human blood, 55 percent of its volume is plasma and is accountable for majority of the circulation throughout the human body.
How is plasma fractionated?
Since plasma is a cluster of proteins, so tiny in size that they are effectively visible only with the help of electron microscopes. In 1940, American chemist Dr Edwin Cohn first discovered the technique that proteins could exclusively be extracted from plasma, when the plasma is at the exact combination of temperature, ethanol, pH and salt concentration. With an appropriate adjustment of all these factors, Cohn discovered that he could purify albumin and immunoglobulin ‘fractions’. This method with further technological enhancement is even used today.
When the plasma extraction process is carried out, a clear solution of plasma in the uppermost phase, a thin layer of leukocytes mixed with platelets in the middle and red blood cells (erythrocytes) at the bottom of the centrifuge tube. This extracted component is used in the prevention and treatment of chronic life threatening diseases which are usually caused by immunologic disorders, trauma, and infections. A survey report on the plasma fractionation market states that this procedure is used in treating protein deficiency in several healthcare applications. Furthermore, fractionation is also used in production of packaging material for industrial applications. In the complete plasma proteins, albumin constitutes for nearly 60 percent at the concentrations between 35 and 55 mg/mL.