Review by the Chief Executive
As before, the national supply reliability of blood products remained good throughout the year. There were no major supply problems. The Stem Cell Registry was also able to meet demands in the search for matching stem cell donors to help patients with severe blood disorders.
We prepare for the future in many ways. In September, an important decision was made to relocate the Blood Service’s main place of business in autumn 2022 into new premises being built in Vehkala, Vantaa. The new premises will allow for even smoother production, laboratory and storage processes. At the same time, we will enhance our preparedness for exceptional circumstances.
For a few years, we have been preparing for the introduction of a new data system for the management of blood donation, production and the supply chain. The introduction is scheduled for 2020. The first thing about the new system that blood donors will see is the opportunity to fill in the health questionnaire online before arriving to donate blood.
The Board of the FRC has approved the Blood Service’s research and development strategy. The aim is to improve the quality, safety, availability and effective use of current and future products and services. One target is to improve the efficiency of the service chain.
We conduct our research vigorously and actively. December saw completion of the 64th doctoral dissertation within the Blood Service. Sami Valkonen, MA, conducted his dissertation on the biology of microvesicles, which are vesicles derived from red blood cells and platelets. Research continues in the form of a national project to investigate whether these vesicles could be used in transporting medicinal agents in the body.
In our product development, new areas for development include products used in gene and cell therapy. In the future, it is hoped this will offer treatment options for diseases previously thought to be incurable. We have the resources to transfer the process from research laboratory to production in collaboration with the University of Helsinki and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa.
One of the ten biobanks in Finland operates within the Blood Service. Biobanks give samples and data for high-quality research and product development projects. The biobank at the Blood Service participates in the national FinnGen project with the aim of utilising genomic and health information to bring about important innovations that will promote health.
The Blood Service gains the majority of its income by selling blood products and services to hospitals, by selling plasma unused in Finland to the pharmaceutical industry, and from asset investment. Our economic situation is solid despite the fact that the use of blood products has diminished by 40% in just over 20 years, and prices have not been increased for six years. Our activities are non-profit, which in practice means that any surplus from financing our operations is used to develop Blood Service activities. In accordance with this principle, the surplus of previous years has been used to create an independent fund to support research activities. At the moment, its capital amounts to approximately EUR 23M. This allows us to ensure high-level research will continue for years to come.
I wish to offer our heartfelt thanks to the voluntary blood donors and members of the Stem Cell Registry who have made our work possible. We do our best to ensure that the gift you give will be of maximum benefit to its recipient. I also wish to thank our staff, who have worked tirelessly to make this possible. I also want to thank our clients and partners for their valuable collaboration.
Martti Syrjälä, Professor
Chief Executive of the Blood Service