The Platelet Charity funds small grants for medical research into Platelet Functions Disorders. These grants can be used to purchase equipment or to run clinical trials or to collect clinical data – all in order to create better diagnosis and treatment for patients with PFD. These small grants can also be used to raise awareness of PFD – as better information can have a positive impact for sufferers and their carers.
The Grants Panel is presently Chaired by Professor Jeremy Pearson (Deputy Medical Director, British Heart Foundation), Prof. Tim Warner (Queen Mary, University of London), Prof Jon Gibbins (University of Reading), Dr Paul Harrison (University of Birmingham) and Dr Gillian Lowe (Consultant, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham).
The Platelet Charity awarded a single grant in 2015 and two small grants in 2014.
Grant for 2015
The 2015 grant was awarded to Dr Clare Samuelson at the UK Comprehensive Care Haemophilia Centre in Sheffield. The monies will be used to fund research into platelet function disorders for women undergoing hysterectomy or endometrial ablation for severe menorrhagia (extremely heavy periods). This study is a collaboration between the gynaecology and haematology departments at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. The other collaborators are Dr Rhona Maclean, Dr Ted Baxter and Prof Mike Makris.
Current treatment for heavy periods include a number of treatment protocols, including prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors, endometrial ablation or most radically, hysterectomy.
It is not always clear for some women what the reason is for such heavy bleeding.
Dr Samuelson and the team will be working on the hypothesis that severe heavy periods in a proportion of women are caused by a blood platelet disorder. If the research outcome is proven, it could lead to groundbreaking new treatments for patients, focusing on the treatment of the blood platelet disorder and preventing the need for surgical intervention.
For many, the prospect of severe heavy bleeding each month can have devastating effects on their general health, including extreme tiredness, anaemia and the inability to perform their work and everyday tasks adequately. Whilst endometrial ablation works for some, many women will need to go on to have a full more invasive hysterectomy, with sometimes lengthy recovery periods.
Grants awarded in 2014
The medical research grant awarded to Dr Neil Morgan in 2014 was used in research to identify new genes that cause low platelet counts. Patients with a reduced number of platelets in the blood are referred to as having thrombocytopenia, and they may be at risk of excessive bleeding. This condition is inherited and so by identifying genes means that patients benefit from early diagnosis in the future.
With the grant from The Platelet Charity, Dr Morgan was able to part fund the purchase of a piece of equipment (Nanophotomter (R) P-Class low volume spectrophotometer), that uses a minute amount of patient DNA sample to enable measurement, so helping to preserve the DNA samples for further investigation. Then the patient is only providing minimal samples rather than multiple for diagnosis and treatment.
Grants awarded in 2014
One of The Platelet Charity 2014 medical research grants was used by Dr Andrew Mumford to design and test a method for genetic diagnosis for Hermansky Pudlak Syndrome (HPS). This is an inherited platelet disorder, sometimes associated with serious complications such as lung disease and immune defects.
The research has focused on using new next generation sequencing (NGS) technology which enables rapid analysis of large groups of genes. This research will yield a rapid, reliable, and cost-effective genetic test for diagnosis of HPS, able to be used as an NHS disgnostic service.