COLUMBUS, Ohio It might be possible to grow human blood platelets in the laboratory for transfusion, according to a new study at The Ohio State University Medical Center.
The findings, published in the January 1, 2009 issue of the journal Experimental Hematology, might one day enable blood banks to grow platelets continuously and in quantities that can ease the chronically tight supply of these critical blood components.
About 13 million platelet concentrates are collected annually in the United States at a cost of about $1 billion. They are needed by people who lack platelets or whose platelets function improperly, such as certain cancer chemotherapy patients, bone marrow transplant patients, trauma patients given massive blood transfusions and people with aplastic anemia.
The concentrates from volunteer donors are expensive to make, require 10 or more tests for pathogens and have a shelf life of only five days. As a result, 20 to 40 percent of platelet concentrates are discarded. Red blood cells, by contrast, last 56 days.
The short shelf life means platelets cannot easily be shipped from an area of surplus to one of scarcity, and hospitals occasionally experience shortages that require surgeries to be postponed.
Attempts by others to grow platelets have produced only small numbers for a short time, says principal investigator, Larry C. Lasky, associate professor of pathology at Ohio State and a specialist in transfusion medicine and blood banking.
"We were pleasantly surprised to achieve continuous production for a month," Lasky says. "It is easy to imagine a series of these chambers producing platelets. It would be ideal for clinical use and possibly solve the short shelf-life problem. Using good manufacturing practices would prevent bacterial contamination."
Currently, platelets are collected either from donated blood or by apheresis. Apheresis is an expensive and time-consuming process that involves taking blood fro
|Contact: Darrell E. Ward|
Ohio State University Medical Center