AABB22: New Technology May Help Make Engineered Platelets a Reality

November 06, 2022

During the #AABB22 Plenary Oral Abstract Session, Jerry Leung, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, described how he and his co-investigators treated platelets with lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) that contain mRNA to enable the expression of exogenous proteins in those platelets.

Leung and his co-investigators theorized that they could use LNPs to enhance platelets in an ex vivo setting. In this scenario, donor platelets would be treated with LNPs that contain mRNA for a desired protein. These platelets would then take up these LNPs and, after a certain amount of time, translate the mRNA, therefore endowing the platelets with a new desired function.

To test their theory, Leung and his coinvestigators compared the protein expression and RNA uptake of the LNP platelets with that of control platelets, platelets with free RNA, and commercial reagents (lipofectamine and Ribojuice). Investigators saw little protein expression prior to using LNPs. Furthermore, they found that optimizing the LNPs increased protein expression nine-fold relative to pre-optimized LNPs. Investigators also assessed platelet activation, determining that exogenous protein expression did not correlate with platelet activation.

To study these platelets in an in vivo setting, investigators tested the LNP platelets in a rat model of polytrauma. In this experiment, there was no significant difference in the ability of LNP platelets or control platelets to stop bleeding or in the volume of blood loss. According to Leung, this suggests that the LNP platelets are still functional and well tolerated in vivo.  

Leung concluded that eventually, further optimization of this can lead to a platform technology that results in enhanced platelets to improve transfusions, targeted therapeutics and new research tools.