CMRB: Turning skin cells into platelets

CMRB: Turning skin cells into platelets

News from CMRB

A study published in Cell Reports shows that is possible to convert skin cells into megakaryocytes with the same functions that the ones that are in the human body, able to produce platelets, the blood cell type responsible of the normal blood clotting. This conversion was induced by a cocktail of 6 factors and takes only 2 weeks. The cells generated in this way were successfully transplanted into mice, giving rise to normal platelets in the animals.

Also, the researchers combined this protocol with gene therapy in skin cells of patients with reduced number of platelets, and showed that normal, disease-free platelets could be generated in the laboratory. This work, led by Ángel Raya (ICREA Research Professor at the CMR[B] and member of CIBER-BBN) opens new avenues for producing cells with potential benefit for patients in a fast and efficient manner.

Current sources of platelets for transfusion are insufficient and can be associated with risk of immune rejection and blood infections. Looking for an alternative to conventional transfusions of external platelets, the authors used a technology recently developed in collaboration with researchers at Lund University in Sweden for generating red blood cells. In the study researchers pushed this technology further and succeeded at producing megakaryocytes, which can be used in the laboratory to generate platelets. Alternatively, megakaryocytes produced in this way can be transplanted into animals, where they engraft and differentiate, giving rise to functional platelets that circulate in the blood of mice together with their own platelets.

More information:
CMRB website

Reference work:
Julián Pulecio, Oriol Alejo, Sandra Capellera-Garcia, Marianna Vitaloni, Paula Río, Eva Mejía-Ramírez, Ilaria Caserta, Juan A. Bueren, Johan Flygare, Ángel Raya (2016). Direct conversion of fibroblasts to megakaryocyte progenitors. Cell reports