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Dutch scientists discover new genes that affect blood platelets

Scientists of VU University and other universities have found 68 new genetic locations that affect the size and number of blood platelets. They published their findings in the prestigious journal Nature.

Platelets (thrombocytes) are the components of blood cells responsible for clotting of the blood. In order to prevent dangerous bleeding and bruising, the number of platelets in the blood has to be sufficient. However, an excessive amount of platelets can cause blood clots that clog arteries, leading to thrombosis, a heart attack or stroke.

This extensive study among 68,000 people from Europe and Asia was conducted by 124 researchers from 13 different countries. They found not only the genetic variants that influence the formation of platelets, but also discovered that these overlap with genes involved in hereditary blood diseases.

VU University professor Dorret Boomsma: “These results provide more insight into the biological processes that underlie the composition of the blood. The more we know about these processes, the better and more focused we can prevent or treat blood-related diseases.”

> The article New gene functions in megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation is available on the Nature website.