• We make platelets.

THE 100 YEAR QUEST
TO MAKE PLATELETS

Since the late 19th century, scientists from around the globe have contributed to the discovery of platelets, the many roles they play in the body, and how to regulate them.

Some of the earliest work was done at Massachusetts General Hospital, where Dr. James Homer Wright first observed how progenitor cells called megakaryocytes form long arms inside the bone marrow, which then bud off platelets into the bloodstream.

A Hungarian scientist first proposed that a growth factor regulating the production of platelets must exist in 1958. Yet it wasn’t until 1994 that five groups working independently discovered thrombopoietin almost simultaneously.

Since then, scientists have focused on how to stimulate the production of platelets, and ultimately, how to make platelets ex vivo. Much of the science that forms the basis of Platelet BioGenesis comes from the laboratories of Joseph Italiano, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Jonathan Thon, Ph.D., who also headed a lab at Brigham and Women’s before joining the company as Chief Executive Officer in 2017. Yet we realize that our work stands on the foundation built by dozens of scientists who have worked for more than a century to understand the complex and crucial role played by platelets. It is our hope that having a predictable, donor-free source of functional platelets will help doctors treat patients dealing with trauma, cancer and many other conditions more effectively.

Historic Timeline

  • Early 1880s  

     - Early 1880s

    Giulio Bizzozero of the University of Turin discovers the function of platelets in the coagulation of blood.

  • Early 1900s  

     - Early 1900s

    James Homer Wright of Massachusetts General Hospital proposes that blood “plates” are derived from the cytoplasm of megakaryocytes. He accompanies his research with beautiful watercolor images.

  • 1910  

     - 1910

    William Duke of MGH treats patients for thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count, with blood transfusions.

  • Late 1900s  

     - Late 1900s

    Numerous scientists observe that megakaryocytes extend pseudopods into blood vessels in bone marrow to bud off platelets.

  • 1958  

     - 1958

    Hungarian scientist Endre Kelemen proposes the name “thrombopoietin” for an as-yet undiscovered factor that would spur platelet production.

  • 1994  

     - 1994

    Five separate groups (Amgen, Genentech, Zymogenetics, Kirin and MIT) all report the purification of thrombopoietin, which regulates platelet production.

  • 1998  

     - 1998

    Joseph Italiano and John H. Hartwig demonstrate that platelets are formed by long arms, dubbed proplatelets, that megakaryocytes extend into blood vessels in bone marrow. They capture the complex process in time-lapse microscopy.

  • 2006  

     - 2006

    Shinya Yamanaka and his team at the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences showed they could generate induced pluripotent stem cells from adult mouse cells, a breakthrough for which he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. The technique is later applied to human cells.

  • 2014  

     - 2014

    Jonathan Thon, Ph.D., and Joseph Italiano, Ph.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, develop a microfluidic platelet bioreactor to produce human platelets ex vivo at clinical scale.

  • Present  

     - Present

    Platelets derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells are poised to become among the first stem cell-derived tissues ready for clinical use, representing a major first step toward a sustainable, donor-free blood system.