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Breaking down blood clots

Project summary

Adhirons: A novel approach for modulation of fibrin-related thrombosis risk in diabetes

Blood clots are a key cause of heart attacks and strokes and often are harder to break down in people with diabetes. Dr Ramzi Ajjan and his team will use state-of-the-art techniques to investigate how clots develop and find new ways to make them easier to break down.

Background to research

Heart attacks and strokes are a leading cause of death and ill health among people with diabetes. The formation of clots that reduce blood flow in vessels supplying the heart and the brain are key to these problems. Blood clots are made of protein fibres that stick together to form a mesh, which traps blood cells and makes blood vessels narrower. Studies show that people with diabetes tend to have clots that are harder to break down and this may be why they are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Dr Ramzi Aijan and his team have found that a protein, called ‘C3’, works to prevent blood clots from breaking down and is found at increased levels in people with diabetes. They have also found that other proteins, called ‘adhirons’, stop C3 from binding to clots, making them easier to break down.

Research aims

Dr Ajjan and his team will investigate new approaches to make blood clots easier to break down in people with diabetes. Using state-of-the-art techniques, they will study adhiron proteins and look at their effects on C3, the structure of clots and clot breakdown. This will help them to understand how clots develop, how different adhirons affect the rate of clot breakdown, how this varies in different individuals and how adhirons might be used to develop new drugs for diabetes.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Findings from this study will help us understand how adhirons change the rate of clot breakdown in people with diabetes. This could lead to the development and testing of new treatments to reduce the risk of clots forming. Such treatments could be available in around 8-10 years and would help to protect people with diabetes from heart attacks and strokes. If the study is successful, the findings will be presented to drug companies so that they can be taken forward on a much larger scale as quickly as possible.

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