Platelet Nanoparticles – Tiny Clotting Helper!

platelet nanoparticles

Artist rendition of how the nanoparticle would appear in blood.
Credit: Peter Allen illustration

Researchers have made platelet nanoparticles that both can help with blood clotting and in other ways.

Synthetic platelets are an area of ongoing research that i’ve written about before. A way to stanch blood flowing from an open wound would save many lives in hospital. A synthetic blood substitute could also help make healthcare less reliant on donated blood and ensure treatment of very severe injuries. A new development in this area comes from researchers at University of California – Santa Barbara at CBE. They have created platelet nanoparticles that mimics blood platelets.

Platelet Nanoparticles – A Tiny Clotting Helper

The paper describing the results of the platelet nanoparticles appear in the journal ACS Nano.

Coagulation is the way the body plugs leaks and start the process of  healing tissue damage. It starts with blood rushing to the spot of the injury, a branching signal cascade forms a fibrin mesh at the injury site that platelets stick to sealing the “leak”. This process is highly choreographed by many different coagulation factors and cells. The process is complicated and activating it by accident could have deadly effects.

When an injury is too severe this system simply isn’t enough to stop the bleeding . This is one area where platelet nanoparticles would come in handy. The synthetic platelet actually behaves like regular one, it flows to injury sites clumping together and can even call more platelets to the site and bind to them forming the plug that stops the leak. After they’ve finished their task they can simply dissolve into the blood avoiding any problems. The nano size of the particle makes it possible for the scientists to improve on nature. The small size makes the platelets even more effective than the regular micron sized particles. These man-made particles can also be used for drug delivery by attaching a drug to the surface of the platelet.

The scientists believe that the strength of the platelets lie in upholding clotting in patients on blood thinners . In patients on this drug any injury is a serious problem since bleeding can’t be stopped as easily. Combining the platelets with antibiotics could also treat blood born bacteria and if needed they could even cross the blood-brain barrier. Additionally, low-cost and long shelf life makes it possible for the platelets to be stocked at hospitals and health clinics for a long time.

As always there still are some kinks left to figure out before this clotting-helper are ready for use.These kinks include additional testing for the platelets to make sure they are safe to use in people, but also other issues like scaling the production, keeping platelets sterile and storage. Until then go ahead and use these .