Platelet E-News – October 16, 2003


  • Update on thrombocytopenia caused by tick bacterium
  • New at the NIH
    • Grant opportunities hold promise
    • Roadmap revamps NIH approach
    • Environment and disease links studied
  • Eating fruits and vegetables lowers bleeding risk
  • Mortality in non-aggressively treated ITP
  • H-Pylori linked to platelet problems
  • Herbal Treatment (advertisement)
  • Immune Globulin Services Provided in Patients’ Homes (advertisement
  • Will WinRho SDF® give you a fast, long-lasting response? (advertisement)



Thrombocytopenia can be associated with many viral, bacterial, fungal, and protozoan infections. Patients with this type of thrombocytopenia may not have anti-platelet antibodies or bone marrow suppression. Researchers associated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School studied one of the thrombocytopenia-causing bacterium, Brerelia hermsii (relapsing fever), carried by ticks and found in the mountains and forests of the western United States and southern British Columbia. Using a mouse model, they concluded that thrombocytopenia associated with relapsing fever is the result of the bacteria attaching directly to the circulating platelets resulting in their destruction. (“Blood” 15 October, 2003 Vol. 102, No. 8)



The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the Office of Rare Diseases are collaborating on a new program to support investigators with novel approaches to understanding, treating, and preventing rare heart, lung, and blood diseases. This new program will encourage exploratory projects and allow researchers to obtain support without large amounts of preliminary data (reported in ASH Newslink, October 1, 2003)

The NIH awarded nine, 5-year grants, totaling approximately $51 million to expand research on autoimmune diseases. Nine Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence will perform clinical trials and conduct basic research on these diseases that collectively effect 14 – 22 million Americans. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is the lead institute funding the initiative.

Note: ITP is an autoimmune disease. PDSA is a member of the National Coalition of Autoimmune Patient Groups, organized by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association ( promoting increased NIH funding for autoimmune diseases.


Elias Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health, presented the new NIH research direction at a briefing for professional and patient support groups on September 29. The research roadmap is designed to create a more efficient and effective research environment leading to more rapid research advances. The three main components of the initiative are “New Pathways to Discovery” (optimizing the genome and computational discovery),”Research Teams of the Future” (encouraging multi-disciplinary participation and innovation), and “Re-engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise (standardizing and streamlining clinical research). For a complete description of the roadmap see


The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Center for Disease Control are designing a study to collect data on child development. By collecting data as children grow, the centers can help determine the incidence and triggers for various diseases. NIEHS scientists are also examining the differences in the genomes of various populations. They can then create mice with specific genetic configurations and observe the effect of environmental factors on the mice.

Note: PDSA is a member of the NIEHS Public Interest Liaison Group.


Japanese researchers found that the daily consumption of green or yellow vegetables and fruits is associated with a lower total risk of stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage mortality. The researchers administered a food frequency questionnaire as well as collected other information beginning in 1980 from a study population of 39,337 subjects. Daily intake of green or yellow vegetables and fruit was associated with a 26% reduction in the risk of death from stroke. (Stroke, Sept. 18, 2003 as published in Medscape)


The records of one hundred thirty consecutive patients with severe ITP treated at the University of Vienna were examined. Most of the patients were given prednisone, IVIg and/or had a splenectomy to keep their counts above 10,000. Of these patients, none died from bleeding, two died from infection, and seven died from other, unrelated causes. The authors conclude that ITP “is a relatively benign disease that does not require aggressive treatment. Bleeding can be prevented if the platelet count can be kept above 10,000 m/ul.” (T. Sailor,, The Hematology Journal (2003) 4, 366-369)


H-Pylori is a bacteria that has been shown to cause stomach ulcers. It has also been associated with low platelets. In the past, several researchers reported that using antibiotics to eradicate the H-pylori bacteria raised the platelet counts of some ITP patients who tested positive for the bacteria. Now researchers have shown that some strains of H-pylori can induce platelet aggregation. Immunoglobulin G was also involved in the bacterium-platelet interaction. While there is no evidence that H.Pylori circulates in the blood, there is evidence that it promotes a strong inflammatory response that may pervade the body. Dermot Cox, of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland said, “There is also a strong case to be made for screening patients with thrombocytopenia for H-pylori and using eradication as the first step in treating thrombocytopenia.” (Tammy Dotts, Hem/Onc Today October, 2003)

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