When blood clots unnecessarily, the resulting thrombosis can be life threatening. For example, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a common but potentially fatal condition that occurs in around 2 million Americans each year. Death occurs when fractions of the clot break off and pass to and block the arteries of the lungs. Drugs that are able to prevent the formation of clots include heparin, warfarin and aspirin.
A report in the February issue of (Nature Medicine Vol. 7, No. 2, 01 Feb 2001) by a team of scientists from the Center for Transgene Technology and Gene Therapy at Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, Belgium, describes a potentially new target for the development of anti-thrombotic drugs.
Peter Carmeliet and colleagues investigated the role of a vitamin K-dependent protein called growth arrest-specific gene 6-product (Gas6). Using a strain of mice lacking the gene for Gas6, they discovered that disabling the Gas6 gene protects mice against fatal blood clotting, but at the same time the mice do not suffer from excessive bleeding. Moreover, because of the ability of Gas6 to amplify the response of platelets to clotting stimuli, antibodies to Gas6 protected mice against fatal blood clotting. Thus, this protein may be the target for new anti-clotting drugs.
Dr. Peter Carmeliet
The Center for Transgene Technology and Gene Therapy
Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology
Tel: +32 1634 5772/4
Fax:+32 1634 5990
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza