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UVA Researchers Find Blood Discovery That Could Help Babies

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Adam Goldfarb with the UVA School of Medicine Adam Goldfarb with the UVA School of Medicine
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Researchers at the University of Virginia have a new blood discovery that could benefit premature babies that need special care.

Researchers say the bigger picture is that this new discovery could reduce the need for platelet transfusions or donor derived platelets.

Platelets are cells in the blood that are critical for the initiation of clot formation. Too few put a person at risk for dangerous hemorrhage complications.

In babies, the cells that produce platelets are different than those in adults. They do not work as efficiently in babies.

Researchers have identified what's called a toggle switch - a protein in babies. It acts to control an infant's developmental process.

Researchers say if they manipulate this switch with drugs, it could help cells become more efficient in producing platelets.

"Platelet transfusions are a problem. The supply of platelets is limited and so really there's a clinical need to have alternative ways of replenishing people's platelet counts if they're too low,” said Adam Goldfarb with the UVA School of Medicine.

The levels of your platelets determine your ability to quickly form cuts when you have some type of injury.

Researchers have already identified drugs that look promising for causing a person's body to make more platelets. They say this work could take decades.

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