Stem Cell-Grown Platelets May Replace Donated Platelets
Platelets are used in life-saving transfusions in patients with platelet disorders, immune disorders, infections and those who are undergoing chemotherapy or have cancer.
Each year, about 4.5 million units of platelet plasma are needed, which are mostly shouldered by donations. Moreover, platelets only have a one-week shelf life, which means they’re in constant short supply. They’re also subject to risks such as an autoimmune response and possible infection.
In Japan, School of Medicine University Professor Yumiko Matsubara worked with existing studies and developed a method to collect platelets from stem cells in twelve days.
Matsubara mentioned that the new fat-derived platelets could fill in a huge demand and are safer than donor-collected cells.
The group first tried to harvest platelets from iPS cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells. They discovered that the stem cells collected from adipose tissue had platelet- and megakaryocyte-sized cells that had the genes necessary to produce platelets.
They then went to work and refined the method to produce platelets via a battery of tests to see if the stem cells would have similar characteristics to human platelets. Under the microscope, the team found hallmark proteins on the platelet’s surface and granules that help with the clotting process.
Dr. Matsubara concludes that their research can produce adipose stem cells using a simple method, and that the next step is to find a way to mass-produce the platelets. Also, the team intends to test the platelets on animal experiments to check for safety and efficacy, followed by trials on human patients if successful.
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