Scientists have found that an experimental antiplatelet drug is highly effective in preventing blood clotting in mice without causing excessive bleeding after an injury.
The research was published yesterday in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. The drug has to be tested in humans, though.
Bleeding was a common side effect in the available antiplatelet drugs, usually prescribed for heart patients to prevent blood cells, called platelets, from clumping together and forming clots. According to experts, depending on where they occurred, clots could lead to a stroke or heart attack.
''As a scientist, it is always intriguing to learn from our mother nature,'' wrote Y Jane Tseng, co-lead author of the study and a professor at the Genomics Center School of Pharmacy at National Taiwan University, in an email.
''There is a long history of using snake venom as a tool to study blood clotting mechanism,'' Tseng said. She added that the only available antiplatelet drugs used for thrombosis in which a clot occurred in a blood vessel and obstructed circulation were also based on venom, though not the same one used in her study.
According to Tur-Fu Huang, co-lead author of the study and a professor at the Graduate Institute of Pharmacology at National Taiwan University, some snake venoms were neurotoxic - poisonous to the brain - while others were hemorrhagic and affected blood coagulation and platelet function profoundly.
According to commentators, current anti-platelet drugs caused excessive bleeding after injury. The new drug designed by researchers from the National Taiwan University is based on a protein in the snake venom and prevented platelets from clotting when it was mixed with blood.
When the new drug was administered to mice, it showed slower blood clot formation compared to untreated mice.
Additionally, the treated mice did not bleed longer than untreated mice.