Bioreactor-Generated Human Platelets Performed In Vitro
Bioreactor-generated human platelets were successfully engineered by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in vitro using a bioreactor—virtually a machine in which a biological reaction or process is achieved on an industrial scale. The platelets are fully functional and disease-free, addressing the worldwide platelet shortage as platelets are difficult to extract from donors and possess a very limited shelf life.
Platelets, similar to the other blood cells, are made in the bone marrow. The microfluidic platelet bioreactor is made to mimic the environment of bone marrow, down to the extracellular matrix composition and blood flow characteristics. Other features, such as bone marrow stiffness and micro-channel size, are simulated by the bioreactor as well. By controlling blood flow and the shear forces emitted by blood turbulence within the bioreactor, platelet initiation greatly rose from 10 percent to 80 percent, leading to the formation of working platelets. The biological process was stabilized within the bioreactor using high resolution live-cell microscopy.
Platelets are required for proper blood clotting and to prevent hemorrhage after a major procedure or treatment. According to the researchers, more than 2.17 million platelet units extracted from donors are administered to patients who are subjected to chemotherapy treatments, surgery, organ transplantation, and those who have sustained major trauma. However, with a shelf life of only five days, risk of contamination and transfusing infected specimens, plus the increased potential of transfusion reactions, platelet demands have risen.
With bioreactor-generated human platelets, the risk of contracting an infection is eliminated and shelf life increased. With an apparatus that resembles the bone marrow setting, artificial platelet generation keeps to the high quality standards of function and safety that exist for blood products, in which the scientists hope to continue to maintain throughout their research until they hit to the market. Phase I clinical human trials are slated to be held in 2017.