McMaster Platelet Immunology Lab

Research

The McMaster Platelet Immunology Laboratory is uniquely positioned to perform comprehensive research into immune platelet disorders, including Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP), Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT), Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia (NAIT) and Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP).

Under the direction of Dr. Donald Arnold, Dr. John Kelton and Dr. Ishac Nazy, the laboratory has over 30 years of research into immune mediated platelet disorders. Investigations have produced over 300 journal articles and book chapters in collaboration with other investigators, including Dr. Theodore Warkentin. Landmark studies have been published in high impact journals including The New England Journal of Medicine and Blood that have changed patient management and understanding of platelet disorders.

In collaboration with the McMaster Centre for Transfusion Research the laboratory’s bench to bedside research has a direct impact on patient management and health outcomes. The laboratory currently supports 3 core faculty investigators and 7 staff including research coordinators and research assistants. Education is integral to our research, and the laboratory currently supports 5 graduate and 3 undergraduate students.



Graduate Students

Nikola Ivetic

Nikola Ivetic

Nikola is the senior doctoral candidate in the Platelet Immunology laboratory whose work focuses on investigating the effects anti-platelet autoantibodies have on megakaryocyte development and platelet production. His investigations are mainly concentrated on the blood disorder known as Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) with an emphasis on understanding platelet underproduction and its possible clinical repercussions. He uses hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in a primary cell culture assay for his work with flow cytometry as the main endpoint.

Nikola finished his undergraduate degree with honours from McMaster University in the Molecular Biology and Genetics program where his thesis focused on protein structure and function. His main hobbies include hiking, movie going and reading.

Publications
  • Arnold DM, Nazi I, Toltl LJ, Ross C, Ivetic N, Smith JW, Liu Y, Kelton JG. Antibody binding to megakaryocytes in vivo in patients with immune thrombocytopenia. Eur. J. Haematol. 6, 1–6, 2015
  • Ivetic N, Nazi I, Karim N, Clare R, Smith JW, Moore JC, Hope KJ, Kelton JG, Arnold DM.. Producing megakaryocytes from a human peripheral blood source. Transfusion 5, 1066–74, 2016
  • Nazi I, Arnold DM, Moore JC, Smith JW, Ivetic N, Horsewood P, Warkentin TE, Kelton JG. Pitfalls in the diagnosis of heparin-Induced thrombocytopenia: A 6-year experience from a reference laboratory. Am. J. Hematol. 7, 629–33, 2015
  • Qadri SM, Donkor DA, Bhakta V, Eltringham-Smith LJ, Dwivedi DJ, Moore JC, Pepler L, Ivetic N, Nazi I, Fox-Robichaud AE, Liaw PC, Sheffield WP. Phosphatidylserine externalization and procoagulant activation of erythrocytes induced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence factor pyocyanin. J. Cell.Mol.Med 20, 710–720, 2016
  • Arnold DM, Vrbensky JR, Karim N, Smith JW, Liu Y, Ivetic N, Kelton JG, Nazy I. The effect of rituximab on anti-platelet autoantibody levels in patients with immune thrombocytopenia. Br. J. Haematol. 178, 302–307. 2017

Angela Huynh

Angela Huynh

Angela is a PhD student in the Platelet Immunology Lab in McMaster University performing research in the Medical Sciences (blood and vasculature). She grew up in Toronto but did her undergraduate degree here at McMaster in Integrated Science and Biochemistry. Angela is currently investigating the biochemical aspects and binding properties of the antibodies responsible for causing heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), an adverse drug reaction that can lead to amputations, strokes, and death. She works on identifying the differences in pathogenic and non-pathogenic antibodies found in the disorder. Outside of the lab, she is a fun loving and easygoing individual who loves shopping and trying all types of culinary cuisines.


Publications

Awards
  • American Society of Hematology Abstract Achievement Award (December 2017)
  • Michael G. DeGroote Doctoral Scholarship of Excellence (August 2017-2019)
  • Best Poster Presentation by Master’s Student at Faculty of Health Sciences Research Plenary 2017 (May 2017)
  • McMaster Hematology & Thromboembolism AFP Student Research Award (May 2017)
  • Faculty of Health Sciences Programs Excellence Award (May 2017)
  • Ernest Robert Mackenzie Kay Scholarship, McMaster University (2012)
  • Science Alumni Scholarship, McMaster University (2012)

John Vrbensky

John Vrbensky

John Vrbensky is a PhD student in the Medical Sciences program in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He obtained his BSc (Hon) from McMaster University in Biology. John’s work is focused on the role of autoreactive CD8+ T cells in immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). In addition to his laboratory work, John also spends his time as a note-taker for deaf and hard of hearing students, as a peer mentor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, and as a member of the men’s hockey team at McMaster.


Publications
  • John R Vrbensky, Ishac Nazy, Lisa J Toltl, Catherine Ross, Nikola Ivetic, James W Smith, John G Kelton, and Donald M Arnold. Megakaryocyte Apoptosis in Immune Thrombocytopenia. Blood Advances (submitted August 2017).
  • Arnold DM, Vrbensky JR, Karim N, Smith JW, Liu Y, Ivetic N, Kelton JG, Nazy I. (2017). The Effect of Rituximab on Anti-Platelet Autoantibody Levels in Patients with Immune Thrombocytopenia. British Journal of Haematology. 178(2): 302-307.
  • John R Vrbensky, Ishac Nazy, Lisa J Toltl, Catherine Ross, Nikola Ivetic, James W Smith, John G Kelton, and Donald M Arnold. Megakaryocyte Apoptosis in the Bone Marrow of Patients with Immune Thrombocytopenia. (2016). Conference abstract. 58th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Awards
  • Faculty of Health Sciences Research Plenary Excellence in Poster Presentations Award. McMaster University, May 2017.
  • Highlights of ASH Recognition, American Society of Hematology. December 2016.
  • Marauder Scholar Award. McMaster University. 2011-2013.
  • Dean's List. McMaster University. 2011-2013.
  • Honour Award. McMaster University. September 2009.

Jennifer Cui

Jennifer Cui

Jennifer is an MSc student in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.

Research Interests: The immune profile of individuals that lead to heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), a rare drug induced immune reaction, in patients who receive heparin in a surgical setting.

Publications
  • Balaz and Cui (2013) The story of “Hyaluronan Putty”. Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre 2(2):143-151.
  • Qiu et al. (2018) Ebola virus requires phosphatidylinositol (3,5) bisphosphate production for efficient viral entry. Virology 513:17-28.



Sabrina Shrestha

Sabrina Shrestha

Sabrina is a MSc student in the Blood and Vasculature research field of the Medical Sciences Graduate Program. Her research specifically focuses on identifying platelet specific autoantibody secreting B cells in the peripheral blood and the bone marrow compartments of ITP patients.

Aside from lab work, she is currently involved in facilitating various academic services to the graduate student community as the VP of the Research Methods Club. She also has previous research experience in developmental neurobiology of the Drosophila visual system in the Erclik Lab at the University of Toronto Mississauga.