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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Patients to benefit from platelet research

By Natalie Hale

The lives of patients who suffer from blood clots could flow a little more easily due to a discovery made by a group of U researchers.

Their study revealed a previously unknown pathway in blood platelet cells that plays a role in blood clotting.

“The discovery will be instrumental in developing therapeutic drugs to treat patients who have issues with excessive clotting in their blood,” said Andrew Weyrich, associate professor of internal medicine and the senior author of the study.

The study, published Oct. 23 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, appeared as a Brief Definitive Report, an article the journal features that is expected to have a high impact within its respected field.

Platelets are blood cells that form clots in the body to stop blood loss, and when inappropriately formed, these clots injure veins and arteries.

U researchers found the pathway by examining human blood platelets. They discovered that cells make what is called a “tissue factor,” an instrumental protein in blood clot formation.

This process is regulated by a certain enzyme found in blood platelets. The enzyme’s role in creating tissue factors was previously unknown, Weyrich said.

Now that the enzyme’s purpose has been identified, it is possible for drugs to be created that could prevent this pathway from causing blood clotting.

Blood coagulation disorders such as stroke, heart attack and sepsis are among the diseases targeted.

Sepsis, a bacterial infection within the body, causes blood coagulation to be disregulated, resulting in clots’ forming in irregular places. This prevents oxygen from reaching parts of the body.

“With our research, the knowledge in theory could help develop a treatment to interrupt all different kinds of blood coagulation disorders,” said Hansjorg Schwertz, a postdoctoral fellow at the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics who also led the study.

Drugs that target the enzyme’s pathway are speculated to be unable to eradicate a clot after one is formed, but if medications are given before clots form, it could possibly prevent them.

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