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New model of clot formation could help prevent heart attacks and strokes

June 14, 2011 - Washington

A team of researchers has shed new light on how blood clots form - a finding that could lead to better drugs for preventing heart attacks and other clot-related conditions.

According to the old model, an injury to the wall of blood vessels causes smooth muscle cells to expose a clot-organizing Protein called tissue factor.

"In the emerging new model, tissue factor exists on the surfaces of these smooth muscle cells, as well as on circulating immune cells, but in an inactive state," said Scripps Research Professor Wolfram Ruf.

"In this study, we've shown that cell-surface receptor P2X7, which was known to promote inflammation when stimulated, also plays a major role in the clot-forming process by activating tissue factor."

"This suggests that clot-preventing drugs targeting the P2X7 pathway might not have unacceptable side effects," said Ruf.

"Cardiovascular disease and heart attacks are caused by chronic inflammation as well as clot formation," he said, adding "so possibly P2X7 is a major explanation for the link between inflammation and thrombosis, as well as a good target for preventing these conditions."

The study was recently published online by the Journal of Clinical Investigation.


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