A Harvard-based research team have successfully produced a miniature movie of the generation of platelets, the key elements that allow blood to clot.
Tobias Junt and his co-workers used a fluorescent dye to label up platelet-producing cells in the bone-marrow of mice and then watched in real time as the cells threaded thin extensions of their membranes into nearby blood vessels. Once in situ the current of passing blood caused the thin finger-like projections to fragment, producing platelets.
Although the origin of platelets was previously known, the steps involved in their production were not. So the improved understanding brought about by these amazing movies, which are reported in this week's Science, may help in the management of bleeding disorders and other conditions associated with low levels of circulating platelets.