UBC/CBS researcher invents device to boost world supply, quality of blood platelets

January 31, 2006

Cancer and open-heart surgery patients, disaster victims, organ or bone marrow transplant recipients, and others who require life-saving blood platelet transfusions will benefit from equipment invented by a researcher at the University of British Columbia's Centre for Blood Research (CBR). The device has the potential to minimize the loss of donated platelets and effectively increase platelet supply by up to 20 per cent, in Canada alone.

The instrument, called a Dynamic Light Scattering Platelet Monitor (DLS-PM), is the first to measure the quality of blood platelets - a key blood component that is transfused specifically to improve clotting and stop bleeding.

Currently, there is no routine test to measure quality of platelets. World standards dictate that platelets must be used within five days to avoid possible risk of bacterial infection. Using the DLS-PM, in conjunction with improved platelet storage practices and changes to blood operator regulations, platelets could be stored for 8-14 days, following a single-step quality test.

Platelets have the shortest shelf life of any blood component because refrigeration destroys their viability. In addition, although platelets less than five days old are viable, there are variations in quality. The monitor will allow blood analysts to improve the way blood products are matched to the patient.

Elisabeth Maurer, a UBC clinical assistant professor of pathology and Canadian Blood Services scientist, designed the instrument, and Keddie Brown, a fourth-year UBC engineering physics student, fabricated the prototype. Canadian Blood Services has patented the DLS-PM.

"We hope to dramatically increase the storage time for platelets with this instrument," says Maurer, an expert in physical chemistry. "Also, we'll now know within 15 minutes which is the best platelet product for the patient."

The DLS-PM, roughly the size of a large shoebox, contains a unique holder that grips a tiny vial - about the diameter of a toothpick - of platelet concentrate. When a beam of light is passed through the vial, platelet particles scatter light in all directions.

Using a computer attached to the instrument, technicians can determine platelet viability by analyzing patterns of scattered light that measure platelet shape, response to change in temperature, and the number of microparticles shed from platelets over time.

Canada is currently meeting the platelet needs of Canadian patients, but there will be increasing pressure to avoid shortages given the aging population and anticipated increase in demand, says Maurer.

Platelets constitute only five to seven per cent of total blood volume and four to six whole blood donations are needed to provide a single platelet transfusion. A donation of only platelets is also possible, through a procedure called plateletpheresis. The five-day storage limitation applies to both collection methods.

"The next big breakthrough in blood research will be increased availability of platelets to make crisis-driven blood donor drives in various areas of the world, a thing of the past," says Dana Devine, executive director of research and development at Canadian Blood Services and a UBC professor of Pathology. "Dr. Maurer's contribution is a fine example of how a community of researchers with diverse expertise can bring new solutions to transfusion science."

Maurer will complete further testing of the instrument in the first quarter of this year and, once a commercial partner is secured, will work to make the equipment available within five years.
Attn. Editors: QuickTime movie clips of platelets are available. Electronic colour images (Jpeg) of Dr. Maurer and the monitor are also available. Broadcasters have free access to UBC's live TV and radio studios for interviews.

Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec and oversees the country's Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Canadian Blood Services operates 41 permanent collection sites and more than 19,000 donor clinics annually. The Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.bloodservices.ca.

The Centre for Blood Research (CBR) is the first of a national network of transfusion research centres envisaged by Canadian Blood Services to transfer scientific excellence and innovation to the blood supply system. The largest centre of its kind in the world, the CBR provides facilities for researchers in basic sciences, medicine, engineering, social sciences, and psychology. The CBR is part of UBC's Life Sciences Institute, an exceptional interdisciplinary research environment that focuses on biological research and the translation of new knowledge into improved health care and new economic ventures.

For an image visit: http://publicaffairs.ubc.ca/download/

University of British Columbia

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.