Production of platelets from stem cells

Chief investigator: Dr Cedric Ghevaert
Location/InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge
Funder: NHSBT Research and Development Committee
NHSBT Research Theme: Advanced Blood Components


Platelets promote blood clotting and platelet transfusions are used for patients who have too few platelets in their blood in order to prevent bleeding.

We are currently dependent on platelets sourced from blood donors. As platelets have a short shelf-life stock management can be an issue. Patients who receive platelets can sometimes be immunised against donor platelets and may not respond to transfusion.

Dr Ghevaert is developing methods to make platelets in the lab from stem cells as an alternative to donated platelets. His work will also test whether stem cells can be ‘modified’ so that the platelets they produce are not destroyed by the immune system.

Dr Ghevaerts’ work is focused on:

  1. Improving the methodology to make platelets from stem cells by forcing cells to change their identity through gene manipulation.
  2. Developing the technology to release platelets from megakaryocytes by recreating the bone marrow environment using 3-dimensional scaffolds
  3. Developing experiments to test the function of transfused platelets and evaluate the immune response against modified platelets.