Navigation Links
Deadly dose: Rensselaer heparin expert helps uncover source of lethal contamination
Date:4/25/2008

Troy, N.Y. -- The mysterious death of patients around the world following a routine dosage of the common blood thinner, heparin, sent researchers on a frantic search to uncover what could make the standard drug so toxic. A researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was among a small group of scientists with the expertise and the high-tech equipment necessary to determine the source of the contamination.

Robert J. Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. '59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, is part of an international team that recently announced it had uncovered the source of the deadly contamination. On April 23, the team led by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), described the source in the journal Nature Biotechnology -- a complex carbohydrate named oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, which has a structure so similar to heparin it was nearly undetectable to less advanced technology.

"Days after the deaths were first linked to heparin, we had the drugs in our hands from the FDA and our nuclear magnetic resonator (NMR) was set into motion to break down the structure of the drug and determine what could possibly be the source of the contamination," Linhardt said. "Now that we know the most likely source of the contamination, we are developing much stronger monitoring systems to ensure that this type of contamination is detected before it reaches patients."

Although extremely close in chemical structure to heparin, the contaminant caused severe allergic reaction in many patients who were receiving routine treatment for kidney dialysis, heart surgery, and other common medical issues. The researchers' extremely detailed structural analysis of the drug, using technology such as the NMR, was able to detect the minute differences between the contaminated drug and a normal dosage of heparin. And while Linhardt and others are developing more sophisticated detection systems, Linhardt also is helping lead the race for a safer, man-made alternative to the traditional biologic heparin. Biological heparin is currently developed by purifying the scrapings of pig and cow intestines.

"This contamination is unfortunately a sign that the way we currently manufacture heparin is simply unsafe," he said. "Because we rely on animals, we open ourselves up for spreading prions and diseases like mad cow disease through these animals. And because most of the raw material is imported, we often can't be sure of exactly what we are getting."

Linhardt is helping lead the global race to develop a synthetic alternative to heparin that could help eliminate the potential for contamination and adverse affects of biologic heparin. His lab developed the first fully synthetic heparin in amounts large enough for human dosage in 2005, and he continues to work to get the product further tested and commercialized.

"A synthetic heparin is built using sugars and enzymes found in the human body," Linhardt said of his recipe for synthetic heparin. "So instead of taking pig intestines and trying to purify it over and over again to reduce it down to just heparin, we are building heparin from scratch with no foreign material present. This method ensures that we know exactly what is in the drug and have complete control over its ingredients."


'/>"/>

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New vaccine may give long-term defense against deadly bird flu and its variant forms
2. Sydney harbors deadly diet for sea creatures
3. Ayurvedic nightshade deadly for dengue mosquito
4. Deadly genetic disease prevented before birth in zebrafish
5. Research unveils new hope for deadly childhood disease
6. Best treatment identified to reduce deadly Staph infections
7. Northwestern to expose most deadly infectious diseases in 3-D
8. Scripps research team blocks bacterial communication system to prevent deadly staph infections
9. MIT-led teams unravel heparin death mystery
10. Inaugural Kirkham Gold Medal presented to expert on soil physics
11. NASA expert to address Earths vanishing polar ice, April 10, at UD
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/24/2017)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric Vehicle ... around 15.1% over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 million ... estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global as ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 21, 2017 Optimove , ... by retailers such as 1-800-Flowers and AdoreMe, today ... Recommendations and Replenishment. Using Optimove,s machine learning algorithms, ... product and replenishment recommendations to their customers based ... predictions of customer intent drawn from a complex ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... Germany , March 16, 2017 CeBIT 2017 - Against identity ... Continue Reading ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide ... Used ... Systems) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2017)... and RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. ... (NASDAQ: UTHR ) today announced that its ... $250 million of the company,s common stock. This program ... December 31, 2017. Purchases may be made in the ... transactions from time to time as determined by United ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... Arrowhead ... ( http://www.paintherapeuticsummit.com ) is coming to San Diego, CA on September 27-28, 2017. ... learn about the latest advances in the treatment of various types of pain. ...
(Date:4/27/2017)... , ... April 27, 2017 , ... ... 2017 Borlaug CAST Communication Award goes to Jayson Lusk, a consummate communicator who ... of media to advocate for science, as he explains how innovation and growth ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... USA (PRWEB) , ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... on FDA’s GMP expectations for phase I clinical trials comes to Tampa, San ... various biotechnology and pharma professionals representing FDA regulated organizations such as Pfizer Inc., ...
Breaking Biology Technology: