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Discovery announced in Science represents 'new paradigm' in the way drugs can be manufactured
Date:10/27/2011

oved by the FDA as a generic drug, is a synthetic anticoagulant used to treat deep vein thrombosis, with over $500 million in annual sales. It is part of a much larger family of anticoagulant drugs known as heparins. But, unlike most heparin products, it is chemically synthesized from non-animal materials. All other heparin-based drugs currently on the market use materials from the intestines of pigs and lungs of cattle as source materials. Such animal materials are more likely to become contaminated, according to Linhardt.

"When we rely on animals, we open ourselves up for spreading viruses and prion diseases like mad cow disease through the use of these heparins," Linhardt said. "And because most of the raw material is imported, we often can't be sure of exactly what we are getting."

But, fondaparinux is extremely costly to produce, according to Linhardt. "The process to produce the drug involves many steps to purify the material and creates tons and tons of hazardous waste to dispose of," Linhardt said.

The new process developed by Linhardt and Liu greatly reduces the number of steps involved in the production of the drug. This reduces the amount of waste produced and the overall cost of producing the drug.

"Cost should no longer be a major factor in the use or production of this drug," Linhardt said.

The process uses sugars and enzymes that are identical to those found in the human body to build the drug piece by piece. The backbone of the material is first built sugar by sugar and then decorated with sulfate groups through the use of enzymes to control its structure and function in the body.

Linhardt and Liu have already begun testing the drug in animal models with successful results and think the drug could be quickly transferred to the market.

"Because the new drug is biologically identical in its performance to the already approved fondaparinux, the approval process for this new drug should work ve
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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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