By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin’s Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center
The term “buffy coat” might make you think of a shiny car wax, but in the world of blood banking, buffy coat refers to the white layer between red blood cells and plasma in a unit of whole blood after it has been spun down in a centrifuge. The buffy coat contains white blood cells, the soldiers of the immune system.
At SBC, we provide buffy coats for research purposes primarily used to study immune response and other white blood cell functions. SBC’s founder and Medical Director, Dr. Ed Engleman, developed the methodology behind the first FDA approved cancer vaccine for advanced prostate cancer a result of many years dedicated to studying these cells.
In addition, we can obtain fresh granulocytes, a specialized blood product comprised largely of white blood cells, from buffy coats. Granulocyte transfusions are given to patients with low white blood cell counts who have not been responsive to antibiotics. Click here to read about one little girl who received granulocyte infusions as a last-ditch effort to fight off infection resulting from her severe aplastic anemia.