Blood clotting helps stem the bleeding from a wound, suppressing blood loss and stopping pathogenic microorganisms from entering the body. However, there’s a dark side to blood clotting. A blood clot, or thrombus, that ends up in the circulation can cause a heart attack or a stroke.
Australian researchers have designed an antibody-based treatment that blocks thrombosis without the unwanted side effects of current treatments such as blood thinners and anticoagulants. This antibody, the first of its kind, targets a specific protein in the blood called Von Willebrand Factor, or VWF. The study was published in Haematologica.
Therapies to inhibit blood clotting often lead to excessive bleeding because they are not selective for “bad” blood clots, but instead stop all coagulation in the body. Moreover, they are not effective for all patients. Statistics show that four out of five patients receiving traditional antithrombotic medications continue to have cardiovascular events even during treatment.
Erik Westein from the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases at Monash University explained: “Our approach was to first identify the biological differences between normal blood clotting and pathological blood clotting, and we found that VWF changes its properties when dangerous blood clots are forming.”
"Next, we engineered an antibody that only detects and blocks this pathological form of VWF and is therefore only active when a blood clot becomes pathological.”
The team’s engineered antibody was designed to not interfere with normal blood clotting and as a result, can be administered at much higher doses compared to existing treatments.