Mitrix Bio released a preview paper discussing recently discovered blood components called “mitlets,” small vesicles containing mitochondria, ejected by platelets, which potentially could be transfused into patients to treat disease.
According to the paper, emerging research is demonstrating that mitlet treatments could one day be used to address numerous diseases that have mitochondrial dysfunction as an underlying factor, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, vision loss, frailty and mitochondrial mutation diseases. Mitlets may also play a significant role in determining the longevity of humans and other animal species.
“We think of mitlets as a form of concentrated healing power,” said Tom Benson, CEO of Mitrix Bio, “perhaps a missing link in the picture of how our bodies regenerate. Platelets have long been known to provide healing factors that encourage cells to regenerate, but cells that are old or damaged might not have enough energy to complete the task. We believe that mitlets supply that missing energy by donating healthy mitochondria – like small power plants – to help ailing cells. We believe platelets normally provide both the mitlets and growth factors as a combined therapy to enable healing. Now that we understand that relationship, we might create therapies to potentially promote faster healing in the elderly or immune-compromised.”
What are mitlets?
Human blood contains many different components that can be transfused — red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, platelets, etc. Mitlets are another type of blood component. They are emitted by platelets. The average person has hundreds of billions of platelets. When activated by damage or by the end of their 10-day lifespan, platelets eject their contents, including mitochondria, encased in tiny capsules. Recent research shows these “mitlets” are absorbed by nearby cells, transferring their mitochondria to help strengthen the immune system and regenerate tissue.
Studies have shown that mitlets can be pooled from multiple donors and injected into a single recipient. This is important because healthy mitochondria are crucial to the healing process.
The technique of mitochondrial transfusion (transplanting mitochondria from an outside source into the body) has recently been developed by a number of major universities. However, finding a source of mitochondria to transplant is a challenge. Donation of mitochondria via mitlets may provide some help with this problem
Mitlets — originally called mitochondrial PEVs — were first discovered in 2014 by Mitrix partner researcher Dr. Eric Boilard and team at Université Laval in Quebec. Now Mitrix has completed research showing that mitlets can be extracted safely from the blood and injected in large quantities, with 10 or more donors concentrating mitlets to a recipient patient, or grown in a bioreactor.
More Work Ahead
The team cautions that mitlet therapy is currently a purely experimental concept with significant risks and has not been approved for human use. It will likely require many years of research before scientists understand it fully. There are no human trials underway at this time.
Mitrix Bio is working with multiple university partners to study mitlets for a variety of indications and is testing bioreactor technology to grow mitlets in larger volumes.
Source: Mitrix Bio Inc.
Mitrix Bio (www.mitrix.bio) is a Palo Alto-based preclinical biotech startup developing mitochondrial transfusion therapeutics, founded by Tom Benson, former manager at SLAC National Lab, with advisors including Dr. Michael Snyder, Chair of the Genetics Department at Stanford University and Dr. Ben Albensi, Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Co-Director of the B.R.A.I.N. Center at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.