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Designing drugs and their antidotes together improves patient care
Date:10/4/2009

DURHAM, N.C. Imagine a surgical patient on a blood-thinning drug who starts bleeding more than expected, and an antidote that works immediately because the blood thinner and antidote were designed to work together. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have engineered a way to do this for an entire, versatile class of drugs called aptamers and published their findings in Nature Medicine.

"With any anticoagulant, you are trying to reduce your chances of having clotting because it can lead to a heart attack or stroke during treatment," said Bruce Sullenger, Ph.D., senior author and Vice Chair for Research and Joseph W. and Dorothy W. Beard Professor of Surgery. Yet bleeding is a common side effect during and after treatments that require anticoagulation therapy such as surgery or angioplasty.

These new antidotes may give doctors a way to quickly and precisely put the brakes on an anticoagulant if bleeding becomes a problem or neutralize other adverse events or toxicities.

Duke researchers have just completed a series of successful clinical trials in patients taking a blood-thinner aptamer and an antidote engineered to reverse the effects of the aptamer.

"We have shown that this type of antidote can reverse the action of any of the aptamer drugs, and there are many aptamers in development," Sullenger said. Their approach amounts to a universal antidote to the entire aptamer family. "We predict that this advance will significantly expand the number of diseases that can be more safely treated using antidote-controllable therapeutic agents," he said.

The new approach, called RNA-based aptamer technology, "provides the opportunity to make safer drugs," said Sullenger, who also directs the Duke Translational Research Institute. "And now that we can engineer a universal antidote for aptamers, we can in principle for the first time afford to provide additional control over drugs for patients and their physici
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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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