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Platelet E-News – January 15, 2003

This e-newsletter is a monthly publication of The Platelet Disorder Support Association. The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. For advice on your unique medical condition, please consult a health care professional.

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  • Perchlorate Contamination Implications
  • Improved Blood Purification Filter Patented
  • ITP Clinical Trials Update
  • New Treatments for Related Conditions-Is ITP next?
  • Thrombocytopenia in the News
  • Does your ITP therapy have a low incidence of side-effects (advertisement)



Perchlorate, the main ingredient of solid rocket fuel was widely dumped at military bases and defense-industry sites during the Cold War. It still lingers in the water supply of 22 states including many of the USA’s fastest-growing population areas such as Nevada, Texas, and Southern California. Perchlorate is also a component of many commercial fertilizers and a by-product during the manufacturing of fireworks.

Perchlorate impedes the production of thyroid hormone. In pharmaceutical form it has been used as a treatment for an overactive thyroid. One of the side effects of treating thyroid disease with perchlorate is aplastic anemia. Aplastic anemia is characterized by bone marrow damage and pancytopenia (decrease in two of the three major cell lines in the blood – red cells, white cells, and platelets). Since, platelets are formed in the bone marrow, any substance that can damage bone marrow is of concern.


Grandipore, an Australian company, received a US Patent for its plasma separation process known as Gradiflow. Unlike other large scale purification technologies, Gradiflow can simultaneously purify proteins and remove viral and bacterial pathogens. This process is an improvement over those currently used which can leave residues of the detergent and killed viruses in the final product. The industrial potential of Gradiflow is under evaluation by leading plasma processing companies such as Cangene and Aventis.

For more information see:


Monoclonal antibodies (mab) are a relatively new class of treatment and increasingly being considered for treating ITP. Mab are often developed for treating other diseases, then tried on ITP patients. Last year PDSA added ITP clinical trials of the mab CTLA4 from Repligen ( and Rituxan ( to our clinical trails list. This year we’ve added a listing for Zenapax ( also called daclizumab. This new trial is being conducted at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

See for our clinical trial listings.


In a six month study, Antegren (natalizumab) a new mab from Biogen and Elan Corp. in Ireland, was reported to significantly reduce the brain lesions in people suffering from the relapsing form of multiple sclerosis. See:

Humira, a mab, has been approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The drug was developed by the Cambridge Antibody Technology Group in the UK and Abbott Laboratories in the US. See

The symptoms of patients with psoriasis, an autoimmune disease, improved 50% taking daily injections of the protein, interleukin-4, a Dutch-German research team reported in the January issue of Nature Medicine. It was reported that Interleukin-4 caused few side effects in the research subjects. (Science News January 4, 2003)

Korean researchers identified a compound that suppresses the immune system of animals. The research team reports that tautomycetin, isolated from a bacterial strain that grows in the soil of Cheju, an island just south of the Korean peninsula, kills human immune T cells in lab dishes. Mice treated with the compound survived an average of 160 days after a heart transplant vs. two weeks for mice treated with cyclosporin A. Note that cyclosporin A is sometimes used to treat ITP. (Science News August 31, 2002)


Post-transfusion purpura (PTP) is a complication of blood transfusions where platelet counts can plummet to below 10,000. This is a relatively rare condition, but is becoming more widely recognized reported Jan McFarland, MD of the Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin at the annual meeting of the American Association of Blood Banks in October, 2002. IVIg is the preferred first-line treatment for PTP. Since there is a risk of recurrence of PTP with subsequent transfusions, it is important for patients to know their diagnosis and future risk. January 2003, Hem/Onc Today (

Thrombocytopenia can be induced by GPIIb/IIIa inhibitors, a new class of drugs used to prevent blood clots often following coronary angioplasty. Three GPIIb/IIIa inhibitors, abciximab, tirofiban, and eptifibatide, are approved in the US. In clinical trials 0.5 – 2 percent of patients treated with these agents experienced acute thrombocytopenia. Roxifiban, a new GPIIb/IIIa inhibitor given orally, also produced thrombocytopenia in 2% of patients in a recent clinical trial. From the January 1 issue of Blood (

“Heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is one of the most common and potentially devastating of immune-mediated drug reactions” reports Dr. Barbara Alving in the January 1 issue of the journal, Blood. HIT should be suspected if the patient recently received heparin and has a marked drop in platelets. In HIT Antibodies develop against platelet factor 4 and begin a cascade of events that can end in thrombosis (blood clots). The seven page article in Blood continues with detail recommendations for laboratory testing, treatments, and patient management. (

This e-newsletter is published by the Platelet Disorder Support Association, P.O. Box 61533, Potomac, MD, 20859, phone:1-87-Platelet or (301) 294-5967, fax: 301-294-3125, web:, e-mail:,