Researchers at Kyoto University have developed a technique to produce platelets from induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS cells). Platelets are formed when small fragments break off from large cells called megakaryocytes within blood flow. The technique involves creating IPS megakaryocytes and then culturing them in a specialized bioreactor. The bioreactor mimics the turbulence of normal blood flow using a French press design to encourage the megakaryocytes to form platelets on a clinically useful scale. The technique can produce enough platelets for transfusions and could help to avoid platelet shortages.
Platelet transfusions are necessary for patients with platelet-related diseases, and sometimes patients undergoing certain surgical procedures or cancer therapies also need platelets. However, donated platelets are only good in storage for a couple of days. In the future, many nations anticipate severe donor shortages. For instance, Japan has estimated that donated platelets will be available for only 80% of patients who need them in the next decade.
To address this issue, researchers are attempting to produce platelets in the lab, using IPS cell technology. The basic technique involves creating IPS megakaryocytes, which are platelet parent cells, and then culturing them in a bioreactor that mimics natural blood flow to encourage the megakaryocytes to form platelets.
So far, researchers have used smooth and linear fluid flow (known as laminar flow) in such bioreactors, but the results have been modest, and the bioreactors have not produced nearly enough platelets for viable transfusions. Researchers at Kyoto University developed a new type of bioreactor that incorporates turbulent fluid flow to help the megakaryocytes to form platelets.
“Our goal is to produce platelets in the lab to replace human donors,” said Koji Eto, a researcher involved in the study. “There has been lots of work on bioreactors, but they only used laminar flow. Nobody thought about turbulence.”
The new design is based on a French press coffee maker, where a plunger moves up and down to create turbulence. The bioreactor can produce more than 100 billion platelets from IPS cells, which is enough to treat patients. The lab-produced platelets behaved normally in mice and rabbits, and the researchers hope that their technique will be useful in treating human patients.
Via: University of Kyoto…