Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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British Heart Foundation Reflections of Research Competition Platelets Start Here

Wound-plugging platelets captured forming inside the bone marrow

02 October 2018

Platelets Start Here

They may look like sparkling, precious jewels, but these glowing gems are actually platelets forming inside the bone marrow. The smallest cellular component in blood, platelets are tiny cellular fragments that bud off from much larger cells known as megakaryocytes. Although they may be small, these little biological bags are real life-savers. Once activated at the site of a wound, platelets spring into action, clumping together to form a stable blood clot to stop the flow. But while platelets are vital for stopping dangerous bleeding when we’re injured, they can also cause trouble by creating unwanted clots inside blood vessels, leading to potentially fatal heart attacks and strokes. Researchers are taking a closer look at platelets to find out why they make clots when they shouldn’t, pointing towards life-saving new prevention strategies, and also investigating what happens when they fail to work properly in people with rare uncontrollable bleeding disorders.

Written by Kat Arney

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