Pharmaceuticals - Anticoagulants

New Study Reveals Groundbreaking Reversible Anticoagulant

May 2024

Pharmaceuticals - Anticoagulants

New Study Reveals Groundbreaking Reversible Anticoagulant

May 2024

A recent study published in Nature Biotechnology has introduced a novel anticoagulant with on-demand reversibility, marking a significant advancement in the field of blood-thinning medications. This innovative drug, developed by researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of Geneva, could revolutionize the management of conditions requiring anticoagulation by reducing the risk of severe bleeding—a common complication with current treatments.

Innovative Anticoagulant Design

The newly developed anticoagulant employs a unique design, combining two drug fragments through the transient hybridization of peptide nucleic acid (PNA). This supramolecular anticoagulant targets thrombin, an enzyme crucial for blood clotting, at two distinct sites. This dual targeting enhances its effectiveness in preventing clot formation. What sets this anticoagulant apart is its on-demand reversibility. The study introduced a PNA antidote that disrupts the supramolecular interaction between the drug fragments, rapidly reversing the anticoagulant's effects.

Research Methodology and Findings

The research team conducted extensive tests using human and mouse plasma samples to measure clotting times. Additionally, they used mouse models to observe the anticoagulant's effects in vivo, particularly after inducing needle injuries to assess the risk of bleeding. The results confirmed the anticoagulant's efficacy in preventing clot formation. Following this, they tested the antidote and found it could quickly and efficiently reverse the anticoagulant effects, a critical feature in clinical settings where timely reversal is necessary to manage bleeding risks or prepare for surgical procedures.

Expert Insights

Dr. Majid Basit, a cardiologist at Memorial Hermann, emphasized the importance of anticoagulants in managing conditions like atrial fibrillation and preventing strokes. He noted that the study's findings could significantly improve the safety profile of anticoagulants by providing a reliable reversal method.

Dr. Adi Iyer, a neurosurgeon and interventional neuroradiologist at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, highlighted the challenges with current anticoagulants, such as the moderate effectiveness and delayed action of existing reversal agents. He suggested that the new anticoagulant and its fast-acting antidote could mitigate bleeding risks and facilitate safer surgeries.

Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, a board-certified interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, CA, remarked on the novel molecular mechanism introduced in the study. He acknowledged its potential to lead to safer anticoagulants but stressed the need for further research before clinical application.

Implications for the Future

The development of this reversible anticoagulant represents a promising step toward safer blood-thinning medications. If further studies confirm these findings, it could revolutionize the management of conditions requiring anticoagulation by offering a robust and immediate solution to the bleeding risks associated with these medications.

Moreover, the concept of on-demand reversibility demonstrated in this study could be extended to other medications with potent effects and significant risks. This could lead to broader applications in various therapeutic areas, enhancing the safety and flexibility of numerous drug therapies.

Revolution for Surgery

The new anticoagulant could offer a more reliable and easier-to-use option for surgical procedures. Heparin, commonly used in this field, is a mixture of polymers of different lengths extracted from pig intestine. The use of heparin in the clinic is problematic due to the risk of serious bleeding side effects and requires coagulation tests during surgery. The new synthetic anticoagulant developed by the Geneva and Sydney team could help solve the problems of purity and availability associated with heparin.

One of the breakthroughs in this work lies in the use of a PNA to link the two molecules that bind and block the action of thrombin, the enzyme that produces fibrin, a key component of blood clots. In this case, the tsetse-fly-derived peptide molecule and a synthetic ketobenzothiazole containing peptide bind to two distinct sites on thrombin as a ‘supramolecule’ connected by a PNA double helical linker, similar in shape to DNA

These two strands of PNA that make up the double helix can come together via relatively weak non-covalent bonds that can be broken when needed. The research team has shown that by introducing correctly matched strands of free PNA, it is possible to dissociate the two thrombin-binding molecules. The two free PNA strands are no longer active as anticoagulants, marking a major innovation in the field.

Useful for Immunotherapy

Beyond anticoagulation, the supramolecular concept of activating and deactivating the active principle could be significant in the field of immunotherapy, particularly for CAR-T therapies. Although CAR-T therapies have advanced the treatment of certain cancers, their use is associated with a significant risk of immune system storm, which can be fatal. The ability to rapidly deactivate treatment with an accessible antidote could be a crucial advancement in improving the safety and efficacy of CAR-T therapies.