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UBC seeks patent on blood thinner with 'enormous potential'

A new medical advancement in blood thinning treatment for heart attacks and strokes is in the works at UBC, following promising results in mice

A University of British Columbia pathologist says his team's research into a safer and more effective blood thinning treatment could lead to groundbreaking medical treatments for vascular health, should human trials be successful.

Blood thinners are commonly used to lessen risks of heart attacks and strokes but carry risks from adverse drug interactions and the risk of not being able to heal a wound since clotting is inhibited.

However, “by targeting a specific molecule involved in clot formation without disrupting the natural clotting process, we’ve created a blood thinner that has proven safer and more effective in animal models, with enormous potential to improve human lives as well,” stated Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu, a professor and Canada Research Chair at UBC’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine and the UBC Centre for Blood Research, via a university news release.

Working alongside researchers at the University of Michigan, Kizhakkedathu and his team has designed a new compound called MPI 8 that could prevent blood clots without increasing the risk of bleeding — a common side effect of standard blood thinners used to reduce the risk of life-threatening conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, pulmonary embolism and stroke.

“Further research will be needed to confirm the safety and efficacy of MPI 8 in humans, but initial results offer hope for a new era in blood clot prevention and thrombosis treatment while serving as a testament to the power of collaboration in research medicine,” the university claims.

Both universities have filed a patent application for the medical technology.

“The development of MPI 8 represents a major breakthrough in the field of blood clot prevention and treatment,” said Kizhakkedathu.

The MPI 8 compound differs from existing blood thinners because it does not target enzymes essential for blood clotting and thus healing wounds. Instead, the compound targets polyphosphate, a molecule involved in blood clotting that accelerates the process but is not essential for it.

“Our thought was that polyphosphate might be a safer target to go after with an antithrombotic drug, because it would just slow these clotting reactions down — even if we take out 100 per cent of the action of the polyphosphate,” said Dr. Jim Morrissey, a professor of biological chemistry and internal medicine at the University of Michigan.

“We really had to come up with an extremely novel way to target it compared to the usual drugs that target clotting, and that’s where the expertise of Dr. Kizhakkedathu’s lab became so important,” added Morrissey.

MPI 8 binds to polyphosphate and inhibits it while leaving the body’s other elements alone.

“MPI 8 demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in preventing blood clots in mice without increasing bleeding risk. The drug showed no signs of toxicity, even at high doses,” stated the university.

The researchers are now seeking clinical trial approval for humans and according to the university the application process and subsequent trials could take about five to seven years. If the results come back positive, the compound could be widely used within a decade.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca