While blood clotting is important to prevent blood loss and for our immunity, coagulation also can cause health issues and even death. Currently, one in four people worldwide dies from diseases and conditions caused by blood clots. Meanwhile, anticoagulants used to reduce risks can also cause significant issues, such as uncontrolled bleeding.
Now, a new biomolecular anticoagulant platform invented by a team led by UNC Charlotte researcher Kirill Afonin holds promise as a revolutionary advancement over the blood thinners currently used during surgeries and other procedures. The team’s discoveries are reported in the journal Nano Letters, first available online on July 5.
“We envision the uses of our new anticoagulant platform would be during coronary artery bypass surgeries, kidney dialysis, and a variety of vascular, surgical and coronary interventions,” Afonin said. “We are now investigating if there are potential future applications with cancer treatments to prevent metastasis and also in addressing the needs of malaria, which can cause coagulation issues.”
The paper shares the most recent results from three years of collaboration among researchers with the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory), University of São Paulo in Brazil, The Pennsylvania State University, and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
“All this resulted in a massive international and interdisciplinary effort to develop a completely new technology that we think may revolutionize the field and be picked up by other areas of health research,” Afonin said.
The team’s technology turns to programmable RNA-DNA anticoagulant fibers that, when injected into the bloodstream, form into modular structures that communicate with thrombin, which are the enzymes in blood plasma that cause blood to clot. The technology allows the structures to prevent blood clotting as it is needed, then be swiftly eliminated from the body by the renal system once the work is done.
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