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19 June 2017


A snake venom protein could be used to help develop a new, innovative class of antiplatelet drugs to prevent or reduce bleeding complications, according to a new study.

Research published in the latest edition of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology from the National Taiwan University has revealed a drug has been tested that interacts with the protein glycoprotein VI (GPVI) that sits on the surface of platelets.

It is believed it could be the first research to design a molecule based on the structure of trowaglerix – a protein in the venom of the Tropidolaemus wagleri snake – to block GPVI activity.

Researchers say that the drug prevented platelets from clotting when it was mixed with blood, while mice that were given it experienced slower blood clot formation compared to untreated mice. They also found that the treated mice did not bleed longer than untreated mice.

Dr Tur-Fu Huang, of the Graduate Institute of Pharmacology at National Taiwan University and lead co-author of the study, said although some of the currently available antiplatelet drugs target another protein, glycoproteins IIb/IIIa, these were based on another protein found in snake venom.

However, a serious side effect is excessive bleeding and the reasons for this are not fully understood, he said.

The results of this latest research support the idea that the new molecule design can be a template for a new, safer class of antiplatelet drugs with limited bleeding side effect.

The snake is a pit-viper found in south-east Asia, also known as the temple viper.

Co-author Dr Jane Tseng, director and professor at Graduate Institute of Biomedical Electronics and Bioinformatics and Drug Research Centre at the National Taiwan University, said: 'In general, this type of molecule design does not last long in the body, so techniques like formulation or delivery system are likely needed to extend the exposure time in the human body.

'The design must also be optimised to ensure that the molecule only interacts with GPVI and not other proteins which can cause unintended reactions.'

The drug must be further tested in animals before it is tested among humans, she added.

Source: Chang CH, Chung CH, Tu YS et al. Trowaglerix Venom Polypeptides As a Novel Antithrombotic Agent by Targeting Immunoglobulin-Like Domains of Glycoprotein VI in Platelet. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 8 June 2017; doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.116.308604


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