A Magic Potion

July 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm

By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin’s Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

Cryoprecipitate is a blood product made from frozen plasma. The plasma is slowly thawed, then sent through a centrifuge, a machine that spins and sorts blood components based on their masses. The “cold precipitate” protein that is left behind after most of the liquid plasma is removed is the cryoprecipitate.

Cryoprecipitate, or “cryo” as it is affectionately called, originally found use as treatment for hemophilia. It was discovered that cryo had concentrated quantities of Factor VIII, a blood-clotting factor. These concentrates are transfused in pools of five or six. (Coincidentally, this discovery is in part due to Dr. Judith Pool, a Stanford researcher and professor in the 1960s and 70s.)

Before cryo, hemophiliacs had to be transfused with frozen plasma to help control their bleeding. However, all of the extra fluid in the frozen plasma could lead to circulatory overload and congestive heart failure. So, this magic potion revolutionized the treatment of hemophiliacs!