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Finding blood clots before they wreak havoc
Date:10/19/2013

CAMBRIDGE, Mass-- Life-threatening blood clots can form in anyone who sits on a plane for a long time, is confined to bed while recovering from surgery, or takes certain medications.

There is no fast and easy way to diagnose these clots, which often remain undetected until they break free and cause a stroke or heart attack. However, new technology from MIT may soon change that: A team of engineers has developed a way to detect blood clots using a simple urine test.

The noninvasive diagnostic, described in a recent issue of the journal ACS Nano, relies on nanoparticles that detect the presence of thrombin, a key blood-clotting factor.

Such a system could be used to monitor patients who are at high risk for blood clots, says Sangeeta Bhatia, senior author of the paper and the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Biochemistry.

"Some patients are at more risk for clotting, but existing blood tests are not consistently able to detect the formation of new clots," says Bhatia, who is also a senior associate member of the Broad Institute and a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).

Lead authors of the paper are Kevin Lin, a graduate student in chemical engineering, and Gabriel Kwong, a postdoc in IMES. Other authors are Andrew Warren, a graduate student in Health Sciences and Technology (HST), and former HST postdoc David Wood.

Sensing thrombin

Blood clotting is produced by a complex cascade of protein interactions, culminating in the formation of fibrin, a fibrous protein that seals wounds. The last step of this process the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin is controlled by an enzyme called thrombin.

Current tests for blood clotting are very indirect, Bhatia says. One, known as the D-dimer test, looks for the presence of fibrin byproducts, which indicates that a clot is being broken down, but will n
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Contact: Andrew Carleen
acarleen@mit.edu
617-253-1682
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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