Designing a new and improved drug to dissolve blood clots

What is this research about?


Blood clots are necessary to control bleeding; however, too much clotting can be harmful. Heart attacks and stroke, which are leading causes of death around the world, are often caused by clots blocking the flow of blood to the heart and brain.

Blood clots in the body are normally broken up by the clot-dissolving enzyme, plasmin. Plasmin is generated when its inactive form, plasminogen, is activated by an enzyme called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Nearly three decades ago, tPA produced in the lab (recombinant tPA; rtPA) was developed as a drug to treat and dissolve potentially harmful clots. Despite saving many lives, rtPA sometimes causes internal bleeding because to be effective it must be given at a very high dose compared to the amount of tPA that is normally in the body. As a consequence, plasmin gets generated throughout the body and not just at the clot location where it is needed.


In brief: A novel drug that dissolves clots in mice faster than current drugs may lead to a new and improved clot-buster for patients.


Collected in Jan 2017

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