Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chemists move closer toward developing safer, fully-synthetic form of heparin

19.08.2008
Chemists are reporting a major advance toward developing a safer, fully-synthetic version of heparin, the widely used blood thinner now produced from pig intestines.

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration last spring linked contaminated batches of the animal-based product, imported from China, to more than 80 deaths and hundreds of allergic reactions among patients exposed to the drug for kidney dialysis and other conditions.

Described here today at the ACS's 236th National Meeting, the purer, non-animal version could improve the drug's safety and bolster regulatory control of its manufacture, the researchers say. Scientists expect demand for heparin, which prevents blood clots, to increase in the future due to rising rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other health complications linked to sedentary lifestyles. Global heparin sales total about $4 billion annually.

"With the problems associated with contaminated heparin produced from pig tissues in China, a non-animal source of this essential drug is gaining importance," says study co-author Robert J. Linhardt, Ph.D., a chemist with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. "A safer version of the drug could result in less adverse effects and fewer deaths."

Heparin can be given by injection to prevent life-threatening blood clots during heart surgery and kidney dialysis. It also is used to clean intravenous lines used in those procedures. Because heparin is difficult to make in the lab from scratch, the drug's only source has been from pig intestines.

Linhardt points out that processing of pig intestines to extract the raw materials is often done in small, family-run workshops in China, which supplies about 70 percent of the world's heparin. Those mom-and-pop shops often fall outside the normal supervision and regulatory control standard in the pharmaceutical industry. The lack of oversight increases the risks of heparin contamination or adulteration with harmful chemicals, viruses, or other agents, he says.

"If heparin is prepared the right way, it should be consistent and safe, even from an animal source," says Linhardt, who was part of the team that identified the suspected chemical contaminant in the Chinese heparin. The contaminant, called oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. Heparin supplies containing the contaminant have now been recalled.

Researchers have been trying for years to develop heparin production methods that don't require pig intestines. The first so-called total synthesis of heparin, developed in 2003 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was not practical. It produced only minute batches of heparin — less than 0.000000035 ounces at a time — and could not be scaled up for commercial use, Linhardt says.

Working with Jian Liu, Ph.D., a medicinal chemist with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Jonathan Dordick, Ph.D., a Rensselaer chemical engineer, Linhardt's team now has developed an alternative synthesis method that boosts heparin production a million times higher than the MIT technique. The scientists employed a patented biotechnology approach that uses powerful enzymes to string together the individual carbohydrate units that form the pure heparin polymer. "Our biotech version of heparin will be prepared in a controlled environment ensuring that it is pure and free of contaminants," Linhardt says.

So far, only small amounts of the new heparin have been produced in the laboratory using this technique, called "chemoenzymatic synthesis." But Linhardt reports that the new approach can be used to produce the drug on a larger scale suitable for industrial manufacture. Cost, dosing, and administration of the new drug should be the same as conventional, animal-based heparin, he notes.

Linhardt plans to begin testing the synthetic heparin on animals this summer. If these and other tests are successful, the new heparin could reach the consumer market in two to five years, he estimates. The National Institutes of Health provided primary funding for the project.

Charmayne Marsh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>