A new drug that prevents blood clots without bringing about increased risk of bleeding, which is a common side-effect of all anti-platelet medications currently available, is delivering incredible results according to researchers.
“We were hopeful that this new drug, which does not cause blood vessel leaks, would help limit reperfusion injury and reduce the chance of heart failure and death,” an official release reads in part.
In July, a peer reviewed study published in the Science Translational Medicine journal described the drug and its delivery mechanisms as an effective treatment for heart attacks in animal models. Xiaoping Du, a scientist from the University of Illinois in the US said “unfortunately, current anti-platelet medications prevent the blood clots that cause heart attack and stroke but also disrupt platelets’ ability to stop bleeding if a blood vessel is torn”.
It all started when the team of researchers identified a signalling mechanism that is important in the blood clotting process but not required for platelets’ ability to adhere to a wound and prevent bleeding. With this, they derived a peptide to target the signalling mechanism and designed a nanoparticle that successfully delivered the peptide into platelets.
The peptide-derived nanoparticle drug – M3mP6 high-loading peptide nanoparticle (HLPN) – was tested in mice as a possible treatment for heart attacks.
Du further explained that a heart attack can cause heart failure and death in two different ways. First, is from the initial damage caused by the clot, which blocks blood flow and reduces oxygen supply.
This is treated through angioplasty and a stent to open the artery, combined with anti-platelet drugs to prevent more clotting. But fresh blood flowing into the damaged heart tissue following the reopening of the artery can trigger inflammation leading to leaks and clots in small blood vessels, further damaging to the heart.
“This is called reperfusion injury and this is the second way a heart attack can lead to heart failure or death. While conducting the research in the mice that received the treatment, there was reduced damage to the heart, reduced clotting and reduced inflammation.
The researchers also found out that it improved heart function and improved survival.
“It is very exciting to see such promising results in the lab and we hope to one day test this in humans,” Du assured.