Researchers Find New Way to Prevent Dangerous Blood Clots
Chapel Hill, NC – For the first time, scientists at the UNC School of Medicine have shown that eliminating the enzyme factor XIII reduces the number of red blood cells trapped in a clot, resulting in a 50 percent reduction in the size of the clot.
The finding, featured in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, has major implications for people at high risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition that – together with its deadly cousin pulmonary embolism – affects 300,000 to 600,000 people in the United States every year. Between 60,000 and 100,000 people die from these conditions every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If we can develop a treatment that exploits this discovery to reduce the size of blood clots, it would represent a whole new approach to treating thrombosis that’s different from anything else on the market,” said Alisa Wolberg, PhD, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and senior author of the JCI paper. “We think reducing factor XIII activity could be helpful to a large number of people, perhaps including some who cannot take existing ‘blood-thinning’ medications.”
In patients with DVT, clots that form inside blood vessels, usually in the legs, obstruct the flow of blood, leading to pain and swelling while raising the risk of pulmonary embolism – a life-threatening condition in which a clot breaks away, travels through the bloodstream, and obstructs a crucial artery in the lungs. Continue>
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