December 23, 2008
Platelets Produced From Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

Rather than continue to have large numbers of people donate blood to isolate needed platelets a group at Ohio State University is producing platelets using stem cells in laboratory bioreactors.

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.

Reports about stem cells getting manipulated to produce useful products are great news. An industry built up around getting people to donate blood won't produce all that much in the way of biotechnological innovations since the most important part of the process happens in a person's body before they donate the blood. A movement of that process into bioreactors creates an industry that will improve the state of the art in tissue engineering. The more types of tissues that get grown in bioreactors the sooner we'll get to full internal organs getting grown outside the body to serve as needed replacement parts as we age.

Stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood were combined with growth factors to stimulate production of megakarocyte cells which shed platelets. This is all good.

For this study, Lasky and his colleagues isolated hematopoietic stem cells, which produce blood cells, from blood taken from umbilical cords following normal, full-term deliveries. The stem cells were grown to greater numbers, then added to the bioreactors chambers with several layers for gas and growth-media control. Control cells were grown in culture flasks. Other attempts to grow platelets have usually used culture flasks or similar two-dimensional systems.

After a few days of growth, a solution of growth factors was added to both groups to stimulate the cells to form large, bone-marrow cells called megakaryocytes, which shed bits of themselves as platelets.

The three-dimensional bioreactor produced up to 1.2 million platelets per day, with production continuing for more than 32 days, while the two-dimensional system generated a maximum of about 350,000 platelets per day over a ten-day period.

This research team is working on ways to increase yields. They are at an early enough stage that many process improvements lie ahead.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 December 23 03:03 PM  Biotech Tissue Engineering

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