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Breaking down blood clots to tackle complications

Project summary

Blood clots are a key cause of heart attacks and strokes and are often more difficult to break down in people with diabetes. Dr Ramzi Ajjan will use state-of-the-art techniques to identify small proteins that could help to break clots down, and then test out their effects. This research could lead to new treatments that protect people with diabetes from life-threatening complications.

Background to research

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. A key reason behind this increased risk is that people with diabetes tend to develop blood clots (clumps of protein fibres which cause blood cells to stick together) that are more difficult to break down. When blood clots develop, they make blood vessels narrower, which reduces the flow of blood to the heart and brain and can result in heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Ajjan has found that people with diabetes have higher levels of three different proteins, and that the activity of these proteins makes blood clots harder to breakdown. His team has developed a new state-of-the-art technique that uses small proteins called Affimers, which bind to other proteins and alter their activity.

With our funding, Dr Ajjan has already found particular Affimers that reduce the activity of two of the three proteins and improve clot breakdown.

Research aims

Dr Ajjan wants to tackle the last remaining protein, called PA1-1. The team will analyse around 3 billion different Affimers to find ones that interact with PA1-1 and reduce its activity.

Dr Ajjan and his team will then look at exactly how the specific Affimers they have identified in their research help to break down clots, using blood samples from people with diabetes. They want to see how strongly these Affimers bind to the three proteins, to help them decide which Affimers could be used to develop new treatments.

Finally, they will study the Affimers in mice, to learn more about their safety and effectiveness in breaking down blood clots.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

This study will help us understand how to break down blood clots in people with diabetes. This could lead to the development of new treatments to reduce the risk of clots forming, to help to protect against heart attacks and strokes, and save lives.

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