Bioreactor Generates Platelets

Nancy Crotti

July 24, 2014

2 Min Read
Bioreactor Generates Platelets

Blood-platelet shortages may become a thing of the past, according to scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The researchers have designed an industrial-strength bone marrow bioreactor that can generate human platelets in vitro, according to a hospital press release.

Their study appears in the July 21, 2014 issue of BLOOD.

The bioreactor increases platelet formation from 10% to 90% and produces functional human platelets, the study says. These would be an alternative to donated platelets, which may transmit disease to patients, according to lead study author Jonathan Thon, PhD, of the hospital's hematology division.

Patients who have suffered major trauma, or are undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplants or other surgery in the United States, receive more than 2.17 million donated platelet units annually according to the researchers. However, increasing demand; a five-day shelf life; and risk of contamination, rejection and infection, have made blood platelet shortages common.

Growing platelets has been an inefficient process, according to William Savage, MD, PhD, medical director of the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women's Hospital. Although Savage did not contribute to the study, he said it addresses that gap while furthering the understanding of platelet biology.

The researchers hope to begin human clinical trials in 2017.

In the past several years, bioreactors have been used for an array of tissue-engineering breakthroughs. For instance, in 2012, scientists developed a synthetic jellyfish that shed light on the workings of biological pumps. In addition, bioreactors are playing an important role in the development of lab-engineered organs that are seeded with stem cells. One example is the creation of synthetic tracheas, which are formed when a scaffold is seeded with stem cells and placed in a bioreactor.

Nancy Crotti is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

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About the Author(s)

Nancy Crotti

Nancy Crotti is a frequent contributor to MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected].

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