The Mirasol Evaluation of Reduction in Infections Trial (MERIT): study protocol for a randomized controlled clinical trial

Kasirye R, Hume HA, Bloch EM, Lubega I, Kyeyune D, Shrestha R, Ddungu H, Musana HW, Dhabangi A, Ouma J, Eroju P, de Lange T, Tartakovsky M, White JL, Kakura C, Fowler MG, Musoke P, Nolan M, Grabowski MK, Moulton LH, Stramer SL, Whitby D, Zimmerman PA, Wabwire D, Kajja I, McCullough J, Goodrich R, Quinn TC, Cortes R, Ness PM, Tobian AAR


Transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs) are a global health challenge. One new approach to reduce TTIs is the use of pathogen reduction technology (PRT). In vitro, Mirasol PRT reduces the infectious load in whole blood (WB) by at least 99%. However, there are limited in vivo data on the safety and efficacy of Mirasol PRT. The objective of the Mirasol Evaluation of Reduction in Infections Trial (MERIT) is to investigate whether Mirasol PRT of WB can prevent seven targeted TTIs (malaria, bacteria, human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis E virus, and human herpesvirus 8).


MERIT is a randomized, double-blinded, controlled clinical trial. Recruitment started in November 2019 and is expected to end in 2024. Consenting participants who require transfusion as medically indicated at three hospitals in Kampala, Uganda, will be randomized to receive either Mirasol-treated WB (n = 1000) or standard WB (n = 1000). TTI testing will be performed on donor units and recipients (pre-transfusion and day 2, day 7, week 4, and week 10 after transfusion). The primary endpoint is the cumulative incidence of one or more targeted TTIs from the Mirasol-treated WB vs. standard WB in a previously negative recipient for the specific TTI that is also detected in the donor unit. Log-binomial regression models will be used to estimate the relative risk reduction of a TTI by 10 weeks associated with Mirasol PRT. The clinical effectiveness of Mirasol WB compared to standard WB products in recipients will also be evaluated.


Screening infrastructure for TTIs in low-resource settings has gaps, even for major TTIs. PRT presents a fast, potentially cost-effective, and easy-to-use technology to improve blood safety. MERIT is the largest clinical trial designed to evaluate the use of Mirasol PRT for WB. In addition, this trial will provide data on TTIs in Uganda.


Mirasol Evaluation of Reduction in Infections Trial (MERIT) NCT03737669 . Registered on 9 November 2018.