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Tick's Spit Leads to Blood Clotting

by Bidita Debnath on  July 3, 2013 at 11:29 PM Research News   - G J E 4
There really is such a thing as tick spit. That is, the saliva of a tick and there's something about it that might help fight heart disease and stroke.
 Tick's Spit Leads to Blood Clotting
Tick's Spit Leads to Blood Clotting
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The link comes from a protein found in the spit of ixodes (ik-SO-deez) ticks, which are also known as blacklegged ticks, or deer ticks. These kinds of ticks tear their way into skin and feed on their host's blood for several days.

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They damage small blood vessels, which would normally trigger the body to start a process called coagulation - or blood clotting.Clotting is important because it stops bleeding. But it also can play a role in heart attacks and strokes.

That leads back to the ticks, and their spitting. These ticks spit where they bite their host. In doing so, they project a protein that blocks the body's natural clotting process; it happens similar to the way blood thinners - or "anticoagulants" - work.

The new thing researchers have learned is that the two clotting factors, called factor X and factor V, that get blocked by the tick spit end up working together and activating a third clotting element, so the clotting eventually happens.Scientists already knew which coagulation factors are able to activate Factor V but they didn't know that factor X was extremely important in this process.Thanks to these ticks - and their spit - we have a better understanding of the clotting process.

The result is a new model for blood coagulation, which is an important discovery for our understanding of how clots are formed, why certain anti-clotting drugs help and how new drugs could be developed.Imagine all that information from those little ticks, and their spit.

Source: Eurekalert
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