Researchers tap into a new and potentially better source of platelets for transfusion

Jul 28, 2008

Japanese researchers may be one step closer to improving treatments for bleeding disorders. A group of researchers from the University of Tokyo has devised a way to maximize the numbers and function of clot-forming blood cells from mice. Their work will be published online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine on July 28.

Clot-forming blood cells, or platelets, can drop to dangerously low levels in diseases such as anemia and in patients undergoing chemotherapy. To replace these critical cells, doctors filter platelets from donated blood, but this approach can increase the risk of transmitting blood infections and cause other side effects in patients who need frequent transfusions.

To get around these problems, scientists have been trying to generate platelets from embryonic stem cell lines. But stem cells also give rise to other types of cells, which tend to quickly outnumber the platelets. The Japanese group solved this problem with a simple refinement—they started with a stem cell population that was already committed to becoming platelets.

Another problem with making platelets from stem cells is that the resulting platelets often fail to form clots properly. This defect can be caused by the presence of enzymes that shear adhesive proteins from the cells' surface, preventing them from sticking to one another or to blood vessel walls. The researchers found these enzymes in their laboratory cultures and showed that blocking them restored platelet function when the cells were infused into injured mice. The scientists now plan to test whether the same approach will work in humans.

Source: Journal of Experimental Medicine

Explore further: Cell death proteins key to fighting disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers gain fuller picture of cell protein reactions

Nov 21, 2013

Over the past decade, advances in genetic mapping tools have provided great insight into how DNA influences cell behavior. But genetics is only half the equation; much of cells' behavior is the result of post-transcriptional ...

Researchers develop synthetic platelets

May 30, 2012

Synthetic platelets have been developed by UC Santa Barbara researchers, in collaboration with researchers at Scripps Research Institute and Sanford-Burnham Institute in La Jolla, Calif. Their findings are ...

Math predicts size of clot-forming cells

May 25, 2012

UC Davis mathematicians have helped biologists figure out why platelets, the cells that form blood clots, are the size and shape that they are. Because platelets are important both for healing wounds and in strokes and other ...

Chemists unlock potential target for drug development

Jan 19, 2012

A receptor found on blood platelets whose importance as a potential pharmaceutical target has long been questioned may in fact be fruitful in drug testing, according to new research from Michigan State University ...

Materials scientists turn to collagen

Jun 05, 2014

(Phys.org) —Miniature scaffolds made from collagen – the 'glue' that holds our bodies together – are being used to heal damaged joints, and could be used to develop new cancer therapies or help repair ...

Recommended for you

Are my muscular dystrophy drugs working?

10 hours ago

People with muscular dystrophy could one day assess the effectiveness of their medication with the help of a smartphone-linked device, a new study in mice suggests. The study used a new method to process ...

Cell death proteins key to fighting disease

21 hours ago

Melbourne researchers have uncovered key steps involved in programmed cell death, offering new targets for the treatment of diseases including lupus, cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.

Unlocking the secrets of pulmonary hypertension

Oct 30, 2014

A UAlberta team has discovered that a protein that plays a critical role in metabolism, the process by which the cell generates energy from foods, is important for the development of pulmonary hypertension, a deadly disease.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.