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Plugging the Leak

Nanoparticles mimicking platelets help staunch bleeding from injuries

25 February 2022

Plugging the Leak

When you cut your finger, the alarming burst of blood typically stops fairly soon, as platelets in the blood rush to the point of injury, latch into a clump, and plug the hole. They also encourage the growth of a protective net of fibrin to keep everything in place. But the challenge is greater during surgery or large injuries, so improved ways to stop heavy bleeding are needed. Platelet transfusions can help, but are not always available, so researchers are investigating artificial platelets. A new study developed nanoparticles (red in the blood clot pictured) which successfully mimicked platelet ability to hone in on a bleeding injury and clump together to form a plug. They also boosted fibrin (green) growth, further securing the blockade. Stabilising blood clots like this, even when natural platelets are depleted, could fill an important gap in current treatments, and save countless lives.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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