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Blood Platelets Find Opens Avenues for Developing Anti-Clot Drugs

Armen Hareyan's picture

In a finding with significant ramifications for developing drugs to prevent dangerous blood clots, University of Utah School of Medicine researchers have identified an unsuspected mechanism that triggers key blood cells to form clots.

Platelets are blood cells the body uses to form clots and stop blood loss when veins and arteries are injured. University researchers examined human blood platelets and discovered the cells make tissue factor (TF), a key protein in clot formation. The process is regulated by an enzyme found in blood platelets called cdc2-like kinase 1 (Clk1). Before this study, it was not known that blood platelets possess Clk1 and use this critical factor to make tissue factor.

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Now that the role of Clk1 has been identified, it's possible to develop drugs that prevent the enzyme from making tissue factor and inducing blood clots. These medications could help many people at risk for stroke, heart attack, sepsis (general infection), and other life-threatening disorders and diseases related to blood clots, according to Andrew S. Weyrich, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine and senior author of the just-published study.

"This discovery could be really important therapeutically," Weyrich said. "Well-known anti-platelet or anticoagulant drugs do not target the Clk1 pathway."

The study was led by Hansj