Monash Researchers Fight Deep Vein Thrombosis
December 13, 2007
Monash researchers have made a major breakthrough in understanding the way the human body manages blood clotting. The implications could extend to the fight against diseases including deep vein thrombosis - a devastating condition affecting millions of people worldwide each year.
In an article published in early December in the world’s leading haematology journal Blood, a group of scientists headed by Associate Professor Paul Coughlin of the Australian Centre of Blood Diseases (ACBD) have determined the structure of antiplasmin, a protein controlling the speed at which blood clots break down.
“Thrombosis is an all too common disease that can suddenly strike and can be difficult to manage. This structure of antiplasmin is a foundation from which we hope to build new drugs that allow our bodies to more effectively break down clots,” he said.
In particular, the discovery shows how antiplasmin uses an unusual "fishing line" structure to snare its target protein - the clotbusting enzyme plasmin.
A/Prof Coughlin heads both the haematology and the haemostasis and thrombosis units at Box Hill Hospital. He collaborated on the study with fellow ACBD researchers Ms Trifina Sofian and Dr Anita Horvath, and with Dr Ruby Law and Prof James Whisstock from the Monash School of Biomedical Sciences.
Dr Law and Ms Sofian used synchrotron radiation to help solve the structure of the protein.
“Synchrotron radiation is critical for this type of research, and our ability to make these sorts of discoveries is going to be dramatically accelerated by the new Australian synchrotron,” Dr Law said.
The Australian Centre of Blood Diseases is part of Monash University, located in the Alfred Hospital precinct. The antiplasmin breakthrough was funded by the NHMRC Program Grant on Protease Systems Biology.