THE STICKING PLACE
The identification this week’s Nature (Vol. 409, No. 6817, 11 Jan 2001, pp. 202–207; News &Views) of a long-sought receptor on blood platelets explains the effects of two drugs used to prevent strokes and heart attacks; it also points the way to developing other such drugs. Pamela B. Conley of COR Therapeutics, South San Francisco, California, and colleagues cloned the receptor, called ‘P2Y12’; they also provide evidence that a patient with a bleeding disorder has a defect in this gene.
Platelets are central to the process of wound healing. A platelet must be activated seconds after it approaches a damaged site; otherwise, bleeding continues. But overly responsive platelets risk blocking normal blood flow in the smaller vessels of the heart and brain, particularly where atherosclerosis — cholesterol-laden plaques — has narrowed and damaged the vessels. Hence the interest in studying the receptors for platelet-activating substances, which could perhaps be controlled to prevent the unwanted formation of platelet plugs which can cause strokes and heart attacks.
"All in all, they make a convincing case that they have indeed identified this biologically and clinically important molecule," says Skip Brass of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in an accompanying News and Views article.
Pamela B. Conley
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(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza