Although platelets are a critical component in hemostasis, current methods for platelet storage severely limit their utility as a lifesaving blood component. In related work conducted to date, we have developed methods to preserve mammalian cells in desiccated format for extended periods (>6 months). The technology involves cell specific dehydration and rehydration buffering reagents coupled with vacuum assisted desiccation. A documented protocol for erythrocytes has been established and dried red cells are available in limited quantities for diagnostic applications (Hememics Biotech, MD). We have obtained preliminary data indicating the desiccation process developed can be applied to platelets. The desiccated platelets, upon rehydration, remain intact with overall size and function similar to that of in-dated platelets. Furthermore, when compared dried platelets that had gone through other drying techniques such as lyophilization, the desiccate platelets showed to be non-thrombogenic with very low micropartical content (a real concern for using platelets in transfusion medicine). In order to optimize the platelet desiccation process, in Phase I research, we propose to: 1) Desiccate platelets under various conditions by varying constituents of dehydration reagents, vacuum desiccation protocols, and storing samples in a dried format at room temperature for up to a month . 2) Determine the extent to which desiccated platelets recover functionality upon rehydration by performing tests to assess platelets physical and biological functions such as, size, activation status and thrombogenicity in our lab and the labs of our collaborators. Success in this endeavor will facilitate development of a standardized platelet desiccation protocol for therapeutic and diagnostic reagents with a goal to eliminate the need to discard outdated platelets (20% of all platelets) at a cost of ~ $400-$600 million annually to US health care system. The ability to stockpile dried platelets addresses a number of logistical issues by simplifying the delivery of life saving treatments in disaster areas, war zones and remote population centers. The endpoint of this phase I is to have sufficiently robust processes and protocols for the preservation of platelets to indicate potential for long term storage. We will propose further investigation and development in the Phase II SBIR project to establish protocols for dried stabilized platelets with long term preservation for general therapeutic and diagnostic applications.
The project proposes to use cell specific reagent and a vacuum assisted desiccation process to preserve platelets in dried state for long term preservation. The success of the project will extend the current shelf- life of platelets from 5-7 days to several months, making the cells available for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes.