Thrombosis - the formation of internal blood clots - is a common cause of complications and even death following surgery. To create a better means of preventing thrombosis, researchers at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine coated red blood cells (RBCs) with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a clot-dissolving drug commonly used as an emergency treatment for stroke. When given alone, tPA has a short life span in circulation and has the potential to cause serious bleeding as it diffuses out of the bloodstream. The RBC/tPA combo, however, lasts ten times longer in the bloodstream than free-floating tPA and decreases the likelihood of excess bleeding, according to a new study.
"The idea of coating red blood cells with tPA was to create a Trojan Horse, a vehicle for sneaking tPA into the bloodstream that could not only add to the drugs longevity, but would also allow it to be incorporated into a growing blood clot. RBC/tPA can dissolve blood clots from within," said Vladimir R, Muzykantov, MD, PhD, associate professor in Penns Department of Pharmacology and author of the study. "Our research shows that the Trojan Horse approach converts tPA into a potent killer of nascent blood clots, one that would pose a much smaller risk of causing internal bleeding."
In the August issue of Nature Biotechnology, Muzykantov and his colleagues demonstrate in animal models how the marriage of red blood cells and tPA has the potential of safely preventing thrombosis following surgery and as a therapeutic for victims of heart attack or stoke.
Greg Lester | University of Pennsylvania
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