New York: In a major breakthrough that may go a long way in saving lives, scientists have developed a three-dimensional tissue system that can generate functional human platelets.
The system, the first of its kind, reproduces the complex structure and physiology of human bone marrow and successfully generates functional human platelets.
Using a biomaterial matrix of porous silk, the new system is capable of producing platelets for future clinical use and also provides a laboratory tissue system to advance study of blood platelet diseases.
"There are many diseases where platelet production or function is impaired," said co-corresponding author Alessandra Balduini from Tufts University.
"New insight into the formation of platelets would have a major impact on patients and healthcare.
"In this tissue system, we can culture patient-derived megakaryocytes - the bone marrow cells that make platelets - and also endothelial cells, which are found in bone marrow and promote platelet production to design patient-specific drug administration regimes," Balduini said.
The new system can also provide an in-vitro laboratory tissue system with which to study mechanisms of blood disease and to predict efficacy of new drugs - providing a more precise and inexpensive alternative to in vivo animal models.
"The need for platelet production system to treat patients with related diseases is significant. This patient-specific system could provide new insight and options for clinical treatments," said co-corresponding author David Kaplan.
"Further the platelets can be generated on demand, avoiding the complications of storage problems in greater quantities and with better quality and control in terms of morphology and function," Kaplan said.
The findings were published online in the journal Blood.