Platelets Grown from Stem Cells May be Alternative to Donated Platelets
Manufactured platelets could one day provide a reliable, safe supply for transfusions
(WASHINGTON, November 28,
2018) — Researchers have developed a way to grow human platelets in the
laboratory from stem cells derived from fat tissue. The achievement, reported
today in the journal Blood, suggests
manufactured platelets could eventually reduce the reliance on donated
platelets to help patients with cancer and other disorders.
Platelets are a component
of blood that helps with clotting. Platelet transfusions can be life-saving for
patients dealing with cancer or the effects of chemotherapy, infections, immune
disorders, or platelet disorders.
Over 4.5 million platelet
units of plasma are transfused every year worldwide, a need that currently must be met
by human donors. Because donated platelets have a shelf life of less than a
week, supplies often fall short of patient needs. In addition, donated
platelets are subject to inherent safety risks due to infection from the donor
and immune response in the recipient.
In the new study,
researchers led by Yumiko Matsubara, PhD, of Keio University School of Medicine
in Tokyo, Japan, built on previous efforts to prove that fat (adipose) tissue could
be used to create a stem cell line that yielded functioning platelets in just
“By removing the donor
from the equation, adipose-derived stem cells could be used to provide a ready
supply of safe, tolerable platelets to meet an ever-changing demand,” said Dr.
sought to derive platelets from two other types of stem cells including one
known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). They noticed adipose-derived
cells, which were being used as a negative control in the experiments, had
produced megakaryocyte- and platelet-sized cells that naturally expressed
several genes important to producing platelets.
After refining methods
for coaxing adipose-derived stem cells to produce platelets, the researchers
conducted a series of tests to determine whether the manufactured platelets
would function similarly to natural human platelets. They verified that the
lab-grown platelets contained hallmark proteins found on the surface of natural
platelets, as well as granules that are key to the clotting process. Blood
clotting simulations and experiments using mice confirmed that the platelets
behave like donated platelets, gathering together into clumps to form clots.
“Though more expensive to
harvest compared to donor-derived platelets, this research demonstrates that
platelets can be produced from adipose-derived cells by a rather simple
method,” said Matsubara. “Now that we have established an efficient
manufacturing process to yield a large number of adipose-derived platelets, we
next plan to perform preclinical studies using animal models to demonstrate
efficacy and safety, followed by clinical trials in human patients.”
study was funded by the Translational Research Network Program of Japan’s
Agency for Medical Research and Development.
the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field of hematology, is
available weekly in print and online. Blood is a journal of the American
Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org), the world’s
largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood
ASH’s mission is to
further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders
affecting blood, bone marrow, and the immunologic, hemostatic, and vascular
systems by promoting research, clinical care, education, training, and advocacy
blood® is a registered
trademark of the American Society of Hematology.
Society of Hematology
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