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

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."


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

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