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German Research Foundation (DFG) Fellowship to support platelet research

last modified Aug 30, 2016 10:42 AM

Dr Annett Müller has been awarded a 2-year Research Fellowship by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG - German Research Foundation) to study platelets in Dr Cedric Ghevaert's team in collaboration with Dr Thomas Krieg and Dr David A Wilcox (Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA).

Each year in UK, >250,000 platelet concentrates are transfused to patients to prevent life-threatening haemorrhages at a cost of over £60 million to the NHS. Platelets are derived from donated blood, and stock management is challenging due to the short half-life of the cells. In addition, multitransfused patients and multiparous women can become immunised against HLA-antigens that are present on the surface of donor platelets. The NHS Blood and Transplant harvests HLA-matched platelets to treat immunised individuals, but it would be preferable to prevent the immunisation from happening in the first place.

Dr Müller's research will focus on generating "universal" platelets from pluripotent stem cells (PSC). These cells can be produced in large quantities in vitro and will guarantee a continuous supply of platelets. As the platelets will be free of cell surface antigens, they can be given to anyone without having to worry about possible immunisation, therefore providing a welcome alternative to donor-derived platelets.

Dr Müller will also modify the platelets to load α-granules with proteins that will support tissue repair and neovascularization in the ischaemic tissues such as the heart after myocardial infarction or the brain following stroke. As platelets will navigate to the site of tissue injury, they will act as site-specific delivery vehicles and will have many uses in promoting tissue healing and regeneration after an injury.

This work has been previously supported by grants from the NIHR, MRC, BHF, and NHS Blood and Transplant.

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