Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of Michigan have discovered a new compound that prevents blood clots without the risk of bleeding associated with current blood thinning medications.
Blood clots, like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), impact up to 900,000 people annually in the United States. Moreover, every year, blood clots are responsible for around 100,000 deaths.
When a person experiences a blood clot, healthcare providers often prescribe anticoagulants or antithrombotic drugs — commonly called blood thinners — to treat the clot and prevent further clots. These medications include heparin, warfarin, and direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs).
However, blood thinners have significant side effects, including an increased risk of bleeding. This bleeding risk happens because heparin, warfarin, and DOACs act on enzymes involved in the blood clotting process. That’s why doctors closely monitor people taking blood thinners.
However, a new blood thinner may be on the horizon — one that doesn’t increase the risk of bleeding.
UBC and University of Michigan researchers have discovered a macromolecular polyanion inhibitor called MPI 8 that showed remarkable effectiveness in preventing blood clots in a preclinical mouse study. Moreover, MPI 8 did not cause an increased risk of bleeding and showed no signs of toxicity at high doses.
The compound came about after the researchers decided to focus on polyphosphate instead of the enzymes current anticoagulants target. Polyphosphate is a molecule involved in blood clot acceleration that is not essential for the blood clotting process.
After searching through potential molecules, the scientists decided to investigate MPI 8 — a molecule that will bind to and inhibit polyphosphate.
They found that MPI 8 proved to be an effective anticoagulant in mice with no bleeding risk or toxic effects.
In a news release, Jay Kizhakkedathu, a professor and Canada Research Chair at UBC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the UBC Centre for Blood Research, says, "the development of MPI 8 represents a major breakthrough in the field of blood clot prevention and treatment."
"By targeting a specific molecule involved in clot formation without disrupting the natural clotting process, we’ve created a blood thinner that has proven safer and more effective in animal models, with enormous potential to improve human lives as well."- Kizhakkedathu
If further studies produce promising results, the team hopes to conduct clinical trials with MPI 8. In the meantime, they have filed for a patent on their new blood-thinning technology.
- CDC. Impact of Blood Clots on the United States.
- Nature Communications. Smart thrombosis inhibitors without bleeding side effects via charge tunable ligand design.
- The University of British Columbia. Innovative treatment targets blood clots without increased bleeding risk.