Polymer Aids in Blood Clotting
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A "linear polymer" chemical called polyphosphate that speeds blot clotting and helps clots last longer may lead to new treatments for injuries or illnesses -- such as accidents, battlefield wounds and hemophilia -- in which blood clotting is essential for recovery.
That's the finding of a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Georgia.
The study identified a number of ways that polyphosphate helps in blood clotting. The polymer accelerates two parts of the coagulation cascade -- the contact-activation pathway and factor V (a protein the forms thrombin) -- that leads to fibrin and clots, the researchers said.
Polyphosphate also delays the breakdown of clots, which causes new bleeding.
"The net effect is accelerating the rate at which blood clots form and then prolonging how long they last," researcher James H. Morrisey, a biochemist at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.
The study appears this week on the Web site of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Polyphosphate is present in every living organism. However, research into it has been focused on bacteria and there's been little data on the polymer's activity in humans and other vertebrates. Scientists didn't see a role for polyphosphates in vertebrates, so there was little interest in studying the polymer in that context.
That's now changed. Scientists plan to conduct research with polymers in an effort to develop new treatments to control life-threatening bleeding.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about hemophilia.