Blood clots are a common cause of myocardial infarction and stroke, and they arise when blood coagulates and clogs a blood vessel. Scientists have shown that the formation of a blood clot involves the aggregation of blood platelets and the formation of structures known as "fibrin threads," in combination with inflammation in the blood vessel. The molecular processes behind this, however, are only partially known.
The scientists show also that certain enzymes, phosphatases, that break down polyphosphate can prevent both inflammation and the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels of mice. Thus the scientists believe that phosphatases can become the focus for a new type of treatment for blood clots and inflammation.
The discovery opens up opportunities for drug development, according to Dr Nicola Mutch from the University of Leeds who carried out the UK branch of the research.
"The challenge in designing treatments to reduce thrombosis is getting the balance right. We need to find an appropriate drug level or target which causes enough anticoagulation to prevent risk of heart attack or stroke but with minimal bleeding side effects," she explains, "Our work suggests polyphosphate or factor XII could be potential new targets, as neither seems to affect our ability to heal naturally, so drugs based on these molecules could offer a major improvement
- Felicitas Müller, Nicola J. Mutch, Wolfdieter A. Schenk, Stephanie A. Smith, Lucie Esterl, Henri M. Spronk, Stefan Schmidbauer, William A. Gahl, James H. Morrissey, and Thomas Renné. Platelet Polyphosphates Are Proinflammatory and Procoagulant Mediators In Vivo. Cell, Online 10 December 2009