The formation of blood clots or thrombosis can cause several physical ailments; from hypertension to adverse outcomes such as strokes. Existing medications to treat the condition are not without side effects. However, a new study reports the development of a novel antibody that inhibits only a particular blood-prone protein in order to prevent the formation of clots, without any potential side effects.
According to researchers from Monash University the novel antibody was specifically engineered to detect and block only the pathological variant of the Von Willebrand Factor (VWF) blood protein—a protein involved in the prevention and stoppage of bleeding.
Need for A Better Treatment Option
Strokes and heart attacks are two of the most prominent causes of morbidity and mortality across the world. Existing anti-thrombotic treatments have the potential to, and do, lead to adverse bleeding complications due to their interference with the normal process of blood clotting.
Recurring cardiovascular events are found in four out of five patients who are prescribed antiplatelet therapy. Therefore, higher doses of currently available antiplatelet drugs cannot be used. Consequently, their efficiency remains low and the need for future therapies addressing the pitfalls exists.
Putting together the Perfect Antibody
Explaining the approach involved in the making of the antibody, Dr. Erik Westein, co-lead author of the study said, "Our approach was to first identify the biological differences between normal blood clotting and pathological blood clotting, and we found that VWF changes its properties when dangerous blood clots are forming."
Following this, the team designed an antibody that detects and blocks only a VWF that is morbid. This means the antibody would become active only in the event of a blood clot becoming pathological.
Prof. Christoph Hagemeyer, co-lead author of the study, said that the team also analyzed the properties of currently available antibodies that work against VWF. They identified favorable characteristics of each of these antibodies that bound with and blocked blood clots without any severe side effects such as excessive bleeding,
An Antibody Without Side Effects
Following the identification of the desirable traits, the researchers integrated these chosen molecular structures within the newly designed antibody in order to produce a first-in-class drug option that has the ability to prevent the formation of life-threatening blood clots, and is unaccompanied by negative effects such complications related to bleeding.
According to Dr. Westein, doctors are faced with the challenge of balancing the efficiency of the drugs and the side effects of bleeding. "Our engineered antibody is purposely designed to not interfere with normal blood clotting so we expect that it can be used at a much higher and effective dose compared to existing therapies," he highlighted.
The next step for the scientists is to evaluate the efficacy of the new antibody in small animal models. This is to ascertain the workings of the antibody in a complicated biological system comparable to that of human beings.