ITP & PLATELET DISORDERS RESEARCH & TREATMENTS
New Study Aims to Develop Improved Artificial Platelets
With a $1.9 million NIH grant a Case Western Reserve University research team is collaborating with researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation to develop injectable artificial platelets that would halt bleeding by sticking to bleeding sites and signaling natural platelets to be attracted to the site. While artificial platelet research has been ongoing the past 20 years, it mainly focused on 'clustering' mechanisms of platelets. This is the first research to integrate platelets' 'stickiness' function of sticking to an injury site by specific molecular interactions. Researchers say the new platelet design may be more effective in managing bleeding disorders compared to designs in the past. The study aims to uncover the details of how the stickiness and clustering work together to maximize clotting ability.
Eltrombopag Increased Platelet Counts in Chronic ITP Patients Prior to Surgery
ITP patients with low platelet counts face increased risk of bleeding during medical and surgical procedures. Treatment guidelines recommend a platelet count of at least 50,000/µL before minor surgery and at least 80,000/µL before major surgery. A retrospective analysis found that a majority of the chronic ITP patients who received eltrombopag (Promacta®) and who experienced increased platelet counts met current pre-procedural platelet count recommendations. Patients receiving eltrombopag also had reduced need for additional ITP treatment after the procedure. The study explored invasive, non-dental procedures associated with bleeding risk (hemostatic challenges) in 494 chronic ITP patients in five phase2/phase 3 studies of eltrombopag.
Tarantino M, Bakshi K, and Brainsky A. "Hemostatic challenges in patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenia treated with eltrombopag." Platelets, Feb. 2014; 25(1): 55-61.
HOSPITALS, INSURANCE & MEDICAL CARE
Is Your Hospital Safe?
ITP patients have often been hospitalized as part of their treatment and care. But just how safe is your hospital? At least 440,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors in hospitals, according to a study in the Journal of Patient Safety. Changes to improve the situation include not only doctors, nurses and hospital staff but also increased participation by patients in their own health-care decisions. Patients need to ask questions and create a partnership with their doctor before they are in the hospital. The major problems that can be life-threatening include: diagnostic errors and receiving the wrong treatment, hospital-acquired infections, and surgery on the wrong body part.
GENERAL HEALTH & MEDICINE
New Studies Show How Dark Chocolate Helps the Cardiovascular System
We've been hearing of the benefits of eating dark chocolate for many years but only recently scientists discovered the exact reasons why. First, in a study at Louisiana State University researchers report that certain good bacteria in the stomach gobble the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the person's heart. In a second study researchers found that dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to human arteries while preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known risk factors for atherosclerosis. So go ahead and enjoy some chocolate this spring.
American Chemical Society. "Precise reason for health benefits of dark chocolate: Thank hungry gut microbes." ScienceDaily. 18 March 2014.
"Why dark chocolate is good for your heart." Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, February 2014.
Esser D, Mars M, Oosterick E, Stalmach A, et al. "Dark chocolate consumption improves leukocyte adhesion factors and vascular function in overweight men." FASEB J March 2014 28:1464-1473.