UCSB researchers have discovered a new and more effective method of constructing synthetic platelets — the building blocks of blood that assist with clotting — with the help of collaborators at Sanford-Burnham Institute and Scripps Research Institute.

Synthetic platelets are in high demand in the medical field due to their ability to bypass the immune system. In past research, scientists struggled to find a flexible, synthetic material two to four micrometers in size; however, researchers were able to overcome this by using a polymer base.

In addition to functioning as a clotting mechanism, these mimicking particles can locate damaged vessels and aid in drug delivery. The research, titled “Platelet Mimetic Particles for Targeting Thrombi in Flowing Blood,” was published in Tuesday’s edition of Advanced Materials.

UCSB Center for Bioengineering Director Samir Mitragotri said the new platelets proved to be much more effective than past attempts.

“This development is a significant milestone in the field of biomimetic materials,” Mitragotri said in a press release. “By capitalizing on our capabilities in engineering materials, with the expertise in platelet biology that exists in Professor Ruggeri’s laboratory, our synthetic platelets combine unique physical and biological attributes that mimic natural platelets.”