This is a film from a thrombocytopenic patient, which is almost devoid of platelets. Researchers have discovered an enzyme that can boost platelet production. Image by Prof. Erhabor Osaro/Wikimedia Commons
Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Researchers have discovered an enzyme that can boost platelet production and might work as a future therapeutic to treat a condition that can lead to internal bleeding.
The enzyme YRSACT is a key to one method of platelet production, according to scientists at the Scripps Research, who published their findings Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
With genetic mutations, infections and radiation from cancer treatments, the platelet numbers can be reduced, leading to thrombocytopenia.
In previous research, YRSACT was found to have a crucial role in decoding DNA. The new research revealed that it has an additional job in the cell by helping let wounds clog and heal.
"This opens up new options for treating diseases of the blood," co-senior author Dr. Paul Schimmel, a professor at Scripps Research, said in a press release.
In the study, researchers studied platelet-deficient mice. When the animals were injected with YRSACT, their platelet production rose significantly, especially under stressful conditions, such as radiation.
"Our animal study indicated accelerated platelet recovery, not only in antibody-induced thrombocytopenia, but also in radiation-induced thrombocytopenia," said first author Dr. Taisuke Kanaji, an institute investigator at Scripps Research.
They found the enzyme increases the production of large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes -- the precursors to platelets.
Previously, thrombopoietin was the only other protein known to increase platelets.
A version of TPO is currently used as a drug to treat some cases of thrombocytopenia, but it is unsuitable and hazardous in some clinical settings because of fever, fatigue and dilution anemia, the researchers said.
Although YRSACT can be useful to treat humans, the researchers said thrombocytopenia is rare.
The researchers, in collaboration with a group at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University in Japan, tested a stem cell line developed from a thrombocytopenia patient.
Tests in these human cells further confirmed that YRSACT can control a mechanism in cells to boost platelets.
They next want to study what prompts YRSACT on activate on its own in infections to radiation.