Current Projects - Novel platelet tests
Platelets are central to the formation of the thrombi that cause heart attacks and strokes, for which reason many millions of people receive anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin, clopidogrel and dipyridamole. The testing of platelet responses is central to research aimed at developing improved anti-thrombotic drugs, as well as to understanding the roles of platelets in a range of bleeding disorders.
The 'gold standard' test of platelet reactivity is light transmission aggregometry, which was developed some 50 years ago by Prof. Gustav Born (who remains a member of our institute faculty). In this test, light is shone through a suspension of platelets in plasma and the platelet responses to stimulants followed by changes in the amount of light that can pass through the solution; as activated platelets stick together the solution becomes progressively clearer and the transmission of light increases. We have adapted this assay to run in 96-well culture plates pre-coated with platelet stimulants. In this way we can take blood samples from experimental volunteers or patients, isolate platelets and quickly make multiple determinations of platelet responses. We published the methodology of this technique some years ago and are now continuing to use our assay for the testing of platelets in various patient populations, most recently as part of the Bruneck, Framingham Heart and Thrombogenomic studies.
We have recently expanded our platelet assays with the development of techniques to follow platelet activation in whole blood. Paul Armstrong has done much of the work in this area and his paper in Blood can be found by following this link.
The slideshow displays some of this work.