17 September 2012
Research makes significant contributions to patient and donor health
NHS Blood and Transplant publishes its Research and Development Triennial Report 2009-2012 today.
Lorna Williamson, Medical and Research Director at NHSBT
"This comprehensive report covers all areas of NHSBT's Research and Development programme. The successes and achievements of our research teams have contributed significantly to our highly rated international reputation for scientific excellence and this enables us to attract medical and scientific talent. We continue to build on our unique skills and capabilities for the benefit of patients across the NHS."
Significant achievements include:-
- Developing a method that makes red cells in the laboratory
- Developing two new tissue grafts: de-cellularised dermis and demineralised bone matrix for patient therapy.
- Developing a new antibody that could save a baby's life by preventing platelet destruction in the unborn or newborn baby, by the maternal antibodies.
- Extensive research in platelet biology and genomics,
including identifying genes that play a crucial role in
platelet production and function.
(See editor's notes for greater detail)
NHSBT's research strategy for the next three years covers eight themes* including two new coordinated research programmes. The first of these is in the area of donor health, to establish whether we can personalise the interval between blood donations. With a predicted increase in demand for blood over the next decade, it is critical that we maximise donation opportunities, while avoiding detriment to donors' health and wellbeing.
The second is in organ donation and transplantation. Remembering that three patients die each day in the UK from lack of an organ, research to predict which organs can be used is essential, along with strategies to maintain their viability between donation and transplantation. We are therefore establishing a transplant biobank of consented research samples in order to support future studies in this area.
NHSBT is a leading scientific blood and transplant organisation, whose research and development programmes demonstrate the continuing contribution that they are making in the fields of patient and donor health.
The research themes approved in the 2011 strategy are:-
1. Donor health and behaviour
2. Transfusion and transplantation virology and microbiology
3. Appropriate and safe use of blood components
4. Erythrocyte (red cell) biology and immunology
5. Platelet biology and genomics
6. Organ donation and transplantation
7. Stem cells and immunotherapies, and
8. Molecular and tissue engineering.
For additional information please contact the NHSBT press office
number on 01923 367600 or email@example.com
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Notes to editors:
- NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
- The development of a method for generating red cells in the laboratory from stem cells, found in the waste products of normal blood donations. The very young red cells have been shown to have normal function. These results mean that red cells grown in culture could be used for patient treatment in the future if the numbers of red cells grown can be expanded.
- Two new tissue grafts have been developed. De-cellularised dermis, which can be used to treat burns, non-healing ulcers, rotator cuff injuries and in breast reconstruction. Demineralised bone matrix will be used to enhance repair and new bone formation, as it is made into a paste and putty, it can be moulded and pressed into the size and shape of a defect.
- In the UK, one in 350 pregnant women will develop antibodies against their baby's platelets. Fetomaternal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (FMAIT) can be a devastating disease leading to either death of fetuses in the womb or to bleeding in the baby's brain and long-term disability. We have developed a new compound that would prevent platelet destruction in the baby by the maternal antibodies.
- Identifying the genes responsible for two inherited platelet disorders. Gray Platelet Syndrome leads to the production of platelets lacking the ability to stimulate each other and therefore they will not clump together to form a clot. The second disorder, Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radii leads to the birth of children with very low platelet count and substantial bleeding risk especially in the first year of life and with bone abnormalities, notably the absence of one of the long bones in the forearm.
- The main NHSBT research sites, in collaboration with University partners, are Cambridge, Oxford, London and Bristol, with specialist activity in Birmingham and Liverpool.
- Research across NHSBT has total budget of £16 million per year. Around 10% of funding comes from within NHSBT, the remainder from income from research products, the NHS, and external organisations, including the National Institute for Health Research, Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, Wellcome Trust, European Union Framework Programme 7 and commerical partners.
- During the last three years, NHSBT researchers have been granted 5 patents and have had more than 370 papers published.