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Harvard start-up that manufactures platelets receives $10M in Series A

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 14th, 2017

A Harvard University spinout has raised $10 million in Series A financing to develop and commercialize a method to manufacture platelets that would decrease reliance on human blood donors.

Platelet BioGenesis will use the new funding to support preclinical studies for its stem cell-based bioreactors, which produce the platelets.

“We can only store [blood-derived] platelets for five days, so we can’t always get them when we need them,” says Sven Karlsson, co-founder and CEO of Platelet BioGenesis. “The root cause of the problem is our dependence on human donors.”

For example, platelet donations are particularly low during summer vacations, inclement weather and other events. In the event of a disaster such as an earthquake or terrorist attack, the demand increases while donations remain the same, if not fewer.

“By manufacturing platelets, we extend shelf life, eliminate the need for bacterial and viral screening, make them more affordable and produce them on demand,” says Karlsson.

The start-up’s bioreactors act like bone marrow, using induced stem cells to generate megakaryocytes, which are found in bone marrow and only produce platelets. Because these cells can be frozen, Karlsson and his team can stockpile them and thaw them out to meet increased demand.

“Platelets today are really limited to first world countries and within major cities,” Karlsson adds. “If you go into rural America, it can be very hard to access platelet transfusions. By potentially increasing the shelf life and eliminating the connection to human donors, we should be able to extent platelet transfusion to billions of people around the world who need them.”

Source: MedCity News

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