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Clot-Stopping Antibody May Lessen Bleeding Risk

Medical advance tested in rabbits may aid surgeons performing heart bypasses

by Carmen Drahl
February 24, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 8

Anticoagulants, drugs that prevent blood clot formation, are some of the most commonly prescribed medications. These drugs reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes but have a trade-off: They increase the risk of excessive bleeding. Physicians also administer the drugs during surgeries such as heart bypasses, where blood must flow smoothly through an artificial circuit outside the body. Excess bleeding in that situation is a thorny problem. Now, a team from Germany, Australia, and Sweden has developed an antibody that they say can stop blood clots without causing abnormal bleeding (Sci. Transl. Med. 2014, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006804). The antibody, called 3F7, inhibits factor XIIa, a serine protease enzyme in the complex biochemical pathway that triggers clot formation. Thomas Renné of the Karolinska Institute and University Hospital, Stockholm, and colleagues tested 3F7 in rabbits. Compared with heparin, a commonly used anticoagulant, 3F7 was equally good at preventing clots and better at controlling excess bleeding.

A blood clot rich in the meshlike protein fibrin (left) forms on a blood oxygenator used in hospital settings. Blood from rabbits treated with antibody 3F7 (right) does not clot on the oxygenator.
Credit: Courtesy of Kjell Hultenby
A blood clot rich in the protein fibrin forms on a blood oxygenator used in hospitals (left). Blood from rabbits treated with 3F7 antibody does not clot on the oxygenator (right).


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