An important platelet protein that may offer a new angle for developing drugs to prevent strokes and heart attacks has been discovered by scientists.
Lead study author Stephen Holly, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said that I think we're at the start of an exciting journey of drug discovery for a new class of antithrombotic therapies.
AdvertisementIn the human circulatory system, platelets are something of a double-edged sword. Without their clotting abilities, even a minor injury could result in potentially fatal bleeding.
But during a heart attack or stroke, platelets form a clot that can potentially block blood flow through our veins and arteries, a dangerous condition called thrombosis, which can deprive tissues of oxygen and lead to death.
Holly and his colleagues uncovered several potential drug targets using a screening technique that has never before been applied to the cardiovascular system.
The technique, called activity-based protein profiling, has been used in cancer research and allows researchers to track the actual activities of proteins operating within a cell.
The team first pre-screened human platelets to narrow the field of drug-like compounds, then generated an activity-based protein profile using one of these compounds to single out proteins that play a role in platelet activation.
This new knowledge of platelets' natural "on-off" switches could be exploited to develop drugs that keep platelets from forming pathological blood clots. As a next step, the researchers hope to investigate the proteins' roles in animal models before potentially pursuing clinical trials in humans.
The study has been published online in the journal Chemistry and Biology.