Rethinking platelet storage
The way we store platelets now is based on research from nearly 50 years ago. There may be a better way.
Platelets are routinely stored with agitation at room temperature for 5 days, when they’re discarded if they haven’t been transfused. Currently, up to 20% of platelets are discarded due to this short shelf-life. This practice is based on evidence from the 1970s that cold-stored platelets (i.e. platelets that had been stored in the refrigerator) were rapidly cleared by the patient’s circulatory system after transfusion.
More recent research has shown that despite that more rapid clearance, cold-stored platelets may be more functional and even offer advantages in some situations, such as trauma. Cold storage of platelets would also simplify storage and transport logistics.
Recently, a detailed comparison of conventional, cold-stored and cryopreserved platelets was conducted within R&D, led by Principal Research Fellow, Dr Lacey Johnson. The study showed that many of the clot-forming functions of cold-stored platelets were just as good, if not better, than platelets stored conventionally at room temperature.