02 December 2019

A five-year research project could help to improve treatments for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by studying mast cells, British scientists say.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has awarded a £630,000 fellowship to researchers at the University of Birmingham for a project that could lead to new and safer therapeutic strategies to prevent the condition.

DVT is caused by slow flowing blood becoming stagnant in the veins, leading to clots. The research, which will be led by Dr Alexander Brill, will explore the role of mast cells in the development of DVT. It is not yet understood how mast cells are activated by slow blood flow, and why this leads to inflammation.

Researchers at the university have already identified that blocking the production of mast cells in mice can prevent DVT without causing any bleeding problems. In this research, the team will study the behaviour of these cells further and determine the substances these cells release to cause DVT.

They will try to establish if mast cells are involved in human DVT, by studying them in people at various stages of the condition.

Dr Brill, senior research fellow at the university’s Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, said: “Our research could offer new hope for the prevention of DVT and identify medicines that could reduce the risk of bleeding.

“We know that medicines, which block mast cells in humans, are already used in the clinic for conditions like asthma. If we are able to show that mast cells are involved in DVT in people, we could move into clinical trials with other medicines that we already know are safe.”

Dr Noel Faherty, senior research advisor at the BHF, added: “It’s important that patients are treated quickly, but current medication can lead to further complications. If this research is able to identify a new treatment target, it could pave the way for safer treatments, which will help improve the outcomes of people affected by DVT.”


Source: British Heart Foundation