Tag Archives: blood products

Bioreactor-Generated Human Platelets

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.

First Transfusion with Artificial Blood Not Far Off

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), in conjunction with various other medical research institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland, have created artificial blood in the form of type O negative, otherwise known as the “universal donor,” a rare blood type that all other blood types can receive without the potential of severe, life-threatening immunological reactions occurring. The first transfusion with the new artificial blood is expected to occur late 2016.

Artificial blood, namely red blood cells, are produced by dedifferentiating fibroblasts—cells that generate connective tissue in the body, such as blood, bone, and cartilage—from an adult donor and reprogramming them into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The iPSCs are then cultured for a month in a bone marrow-like environment, where mature red blood cells with their characteristic lack of nuclei are extracted.

Currently, non-blood volume expanders are available as an alternative to blood transfusions, which serves as a viable option for patients who have certain religious beliefs, such as Jehovah witnesses, who cannot accept animal products. Dextran, hetastarch, pentastarch, and normal saline or Lactated Ringer’s solution can be used to maintain blood volume and pressure. But they do not increase the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity, which is the sole responsibility of red blood cells—namely hemoglobin, a metalloprotein that contains iron.

Even though 107 million blood donations are collected annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), blood is still in demand, particularly in developing nations. And despite of strict regulations regarding blood collection, storage, and release of its use, the risk of incompatibility reactions and transmitting diseases to recipients still exist.

With artificial blood, the constant need for blood donations is addressed, along with not worrying about infecting a patient with contaminated blood or other potential adverse reactions. Artificial blood is also a culturally sensitive solution to blood loss.