Researchers from Megakaryon of Japan are using stem cells to derive platelet cells, which are regularly in short supply due to a lack of blood donations. Platelet cells assist in clotting and help stop bleeding in surgery and trauma patients. However, because these cells are derived from blood, not only does a shortage exist, but their shelf-life is a mere 4 days, as they cannot be frozen and stored. The protocol involves the expanding and differentiating stem cells into platelet cells. These manufactured cells have a shelf-life of up to 2 weeks and can be administered to patients in need. The new method has the potential to eliminate the need for blood donations.
Scientists at the University of California San Francisco have recently found that a majority of the body’s megakaryocytes, which produce platelets, are actually working in the lungs to produce blood, and the lungs also contain and synthesize mesenchymal stem cells that can replace those of the bone marrow when necessary. When the stem cells typically working in the lungs were administered to mice with low platelet levels, or where blood-producing stem cells in the lungs were not present, the stem cells from the working lungs assumed the responsibility of the stem cells that normally carry out this process.