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Product development and storage

What happens to your donation when it leaves the donor centre? Researchers at the Blood Service are exploring ways to process blood donations more efficiently, reduce risk to patients, improve blood product storage life and reduce waste. Some of this research is already helping the Australian Defence Forces by developing frozen blood components that can be sent to remote locations.

Research leaders

Dr Denese C. Marks
Dr Lacey Johnson
Dr Dianne E. van der Wal
Dr Celine Loh
Dr Kelly Winter
Dr Joanne Tan

Current research

Keeping an eye on quality
In addition to our routine quality assays, our researchers are using a battery of state-of-the art measurements to test red cells, platelets and plasma produced at all our manufacturing sites. This testing, carried out at regular intervals, allows us to monitor the effects of changing blood collection or manufacturing processes.

Long-life platelets
Platelets products are used in patients to prevent and stop bleeding. Platelet function changes during storage.  Under the current storage conditions, platelets need to be used within five days of collection. This research program is exploring a variety of ways to extend the shelf life of platelets and potentially improve their quality by testing alternative storage solutions, refrigeration and freezing. Read more

Donation frequency and red cell storage
During storage, red cells sometimes become more fragile, causing damage that may be detrimental upon transfusion. It is possible that red cells from more frequent donors may not store as well as red cells from less frequent donors, and this may be related to iron deficiency. To understand this, storage of red cells from frequent donors will be compared to red cells from less frequent donors, to find out whether iron deficiency influences red cell storage.

Advanced materials for blood bags
Platelets currently have a short shelf life of five days at room temperature. We are working with university researchers to develop a new coating for blood bags that may help extend platelet shelf life. The coating will contain molecules that are recognised by platelets and keep them in a state that allows them respond to the body’s needs after they are transfused.

Making the best use of blood products
Platelets collected at the Blood Service have a shelf life of only 5 days, and sometimes expire before they can be used. Even after expiry platelets are a source of growth factors, which can be collected by freezing and thawing the platelets to release the growth factors. The resulting platelet lysates can be used to grow human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSCs have the ability to differentiate into various cell types, including bone, cartilage and adipose tissue, and are being used as part of many new therapies to treat many diseases.


Selected publications

Farrugia BL, Chandrasekar K, Johnson L, et al. (2016) Perspectives on the use of biomaterials to store platelets for transfusion. Biointerphases 11(2):029701 doi:10.1116/1.4952450

Johnson L, Reade MC, Hyland RA, Tan S, Marks DC (2014) In vitro comparison of cryopreserved and liquid platelets: potential clinical implications. Transfusion doi:10.1111/trf.12915

Johnson L, Schubert P, Tan S, Devine DV, Marks DC (2016) Extended storage and glucose exhaustion are associated with apoptotic changes in platelets stored in additive solution. Transfusion 56(2):360-8 doi:10.1111/trf.13345

Johnson L, Tan S, Wood B, Davis A, Marks DC (2016) Refrigeration and cryopreservation of platelets differentially affect platelet metabolism and function: a comparison with conventional platelet storage conditions. Transfusion doi:10.1111/trf.13630

Raynel S, Padula MP, Marks DC, Johnson L (2015) Cryopreservation alters the membrane and cytoskeletal protein profile of platelet microparticles. Transfusion 55(10):2422-32 doi:10.1111/trf.13165