CBR Travel Awards: Attending the ISTH 2022 Congress

Written by: Colton Strong, Ph.D. Candidate

Supervisors: Dr. Christian Kastrup & Dr. Dana Devine

Conference: International Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis (ISTH) 2022 Congress, July 9-13, 2022

Location: London, UK

Poster Presentation Title: LNP treated platelets are functionally similar to clinically transfused platelets in vitro

Read a version of this story on the Canadian Blood Services’s Research. Education. Discovery. (R.E.D.) blog: CBR Travel Awards: Attending the ISTH 2022 Congress

Colton Strong in front of an ISTH 2022 poster, attendance supported by a CBR Travel Award

Colton Strong at ISTH

The International Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis (ISTH) 2022 Congress is the most important annual meeting in the field of blood research. The interdisciplinary conference features basic, translational and clinical research in a diverse range of fields within hemostasis including bleeding disorders, coagulation and immunity, to name a few. ISTH also offers industry partners the opportunity to share recent advancements in blood related biotherapeutics and facilitates networking events for attendees. I was accepted to give a poster presentation describing the recent achievements we have made in using lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to genetically engineer platelets for therapeutic applications. My primary goals for attending this conference were to disseminate research findings with the greater blood community and to identify key collaborations that would enable us to drive the project forward.

I started my PhD at UBC mid-pandemic in September 2020 and had yet to attend an international conference in-person until the ISTH 2022 Congress. The opportunity to attend the ISTH 2022 Congress in-person was an eye-opening experience and my first introduction to the international blood community. My attendance has enumerated benefits, both academically and professionally.  The theme of ISTH 2022 Congress was centered around research that has been conducted since the beginning of the pandemic and served as an opportunity for leaders in the community to provide status updates on the research in respective fields. Although there were hundreds of oral communication sessions and interesting poster presentations, the core purpose of my attendance was to not only share my own research, but also advance my knowledge on specific topics including: gene therapy, platelet-derived extracellular vesicles and in vitro platelet production. Thanks to support from CBR, I had the opportunity to engage many interesting oral communication sessions and presentations that expanded my knowledge on the respective topics.

Colton Strong at ISTH, in front of his poster “LNP treated platelets are functionally similar to clinically transfused platelets in vitro

The poster that I presented described our successes transfecting platelets with LNPs and the effects of LNPs on platelet function. Directly expressing exogenous proteins in platelets is something that has not been demonstrated before and sharing our findings with the greater blood communality garnered significant excitement. Specifically, I showed that platelets engineered with LNPs can express luminescent enzymes and have similar in vitro characteristics compared to unmodified platelets. The responsiveness of LNP treated platelets to physiological agonists and their behavior in forming clots was not significantly different than unmodified platelets. While giving the presentation, I was approached by members of the platelet research community and industry representatives that were excited by our platelet technology. We are now actively pursuing new collaborations with national and international researchers.

I would like to thank CBR for supporting my attendance of the ISTH 2022 Congress in London. The academic and professional benefits garnered at this event will be invaluable to both research and future career success.