RCSI discovery could lead to new treatments for blood clotting disorders

3 Nov 2022

Image: © John Keith/Stock.adobe.com

Researchers said their discovery could help with developing new treatment options for disorders such as Von Willebrand disease, deep vein thrombosis and myocardial infarction.

New research suggests a blood clotting protein plays a vital role in regulating immune responses in blood vessel injuries.

It was conducted by researchers at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and the National Coagulation Centre at St James’s Hospital.

The team focused on the Von Willebrand factor (VWF), the protein that helps blood clot properly.

In the new study published in the journal Nature today (3 November), the researchers said this protein also triggers local immune responses at sites of damage.

A deficiency of the VWF protein is called Von Willebrand Disease and occurs in around one in 1,000 people in Ireland. People with this condition have an increased risk of heavy bleeding.

On the flip side, people with higher levels of VWF in their blood are at risk of developing serious blood clots. RCSI researchers have detected very high VWF levels in the patients who have persisting issues after Covid-19.

By understanding the role VWF plays in regulating inflammation responses, the researchers said this could help to find new treatment options for patients with inflammatory and blood clotting disorders such as Von Willebrand disease, deep vein thrombosis and myocardial infarction.

“For more than 50 years, it has been known that Von Willebrand factor plays a key role in preventing bleeding by acting as a glue at the site of injury,” said Prof James O’Donnell, lead author of the study.

“This research now helps us to further understand the role that VWF plays in linking blood coagulation and inflammation and thereby paves the way for the development of new treatments.”

The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the US National Institutes of Health.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic