Cut your finger or graze your knee and your blood will quickly clot to plug the hole. Nature's healing process begins when tiny blood cells – platelets – are prompted to clump together by a protein called collagen. At the site of an injury, blood leaks out of ruptured blood vessels and clots as the platelets come into contact with collagen present inside the vessel walls. However, these wound healers can also form clots in diseased vessels, sometimes causing heart attacks or strokes. By studying how platelets are formed and controlled in our bodies, scientists hope to find new ways of preventing or treating blood clots. Platelets are created in bone marrow and we see them here sprouting from the surface of their giant parent cells – megakaryocytes (a fluorescent stain highlights cell proteins as bright specks).
Written by Mick Warwicker
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