PREDICTING individual patient response, as well as progressing understanding of new therapies in development, may be improved by the use of a newly developed 3D bone marrow model. A team at the Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Pavia, Italy, have developed the miniature model and tested the impact of eltrombopag treatment against a patient blood sample.
Eltrombopag is a therapy that can increase platelet production and has been used in some blood platelet disorders including inherited thrombocytopenias; however, not all patients respond to eltrombopag in the same way. First author Christian Di Buduo, Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Pavia, described the issue that led to the development of the 3D model: “Patients with the same apparent form of platelet disorder may respond differently to treatment with eltrombopag.”
The miniature, 3D bone marrow model is a scaffold of silk protein with a culture of patient-derived cells, which recreates the environment in which platelets are produced. The research team tested the model using blood samples from patients with a platelet disorder who had previously received eltrombopag treatment. The response in platelet production in the model corresponded to how each patient had previously responded to eltrombopag treatment. The simplicity of the approach was highlighted by Di Buduo: “This device is a significant improvement over previous models, requiring only a very small sample of blood to recreate platelet production.”
The model could provide a practical approach to personalised treatment in platelet disorders, allowing clinicians to test treatments prior to providing them to patients. Senior author Alessandra Balduini, Principal Investigator and Professor at the University of Pavia, outlined hopes for the future applications of the model: “This easy-to-reproduce system may also help scientists better understand what goes wrong in these disorders and how treatments work, as well as provide them with a new tool for testing new drugs that may lead to improved therapies in the future.”