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Linhardt to discuss drug safety and the impacts of globalization on pharmaceutical manufacturing

Troy, N.Y. Robert J. Linhardt will discuss drug safety in an increasingly global economy during the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. '59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, will present on how to maintain a safe drug supply on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 8 to 9 a.m. in room 147B of the Washington Convention Center, during the symposium titled "Medicine Safety in a World of Science Without Borders."

Linhardt, who was named in 2009 as one the Scientific American 10 for his lifesaving work, is among the world's foremost experts on the commonly used blood thinner heparin. His research has helped make the currently available heparin safer for patients and is leading the effort to create a safer, fully synthetic alternative to the current heparin, which is harvested from the intestines of mostly foreign livestock. During the symposium, he will discuss this research and lessons that he learned when people around the world died after taking what were thought to be routine dosages of heparin.

Following the deaths of patients around the world from a dosage of heparin in early 2008, scientists scrambled to find the cause. In April 2008, Linhardt and a small team of scientists announced the source of the patient death and illness a complex carbohydrate named oversulfated chondroitin sulfate. It was a contaminant so structurally similar to heparin it was nearly undetectable to some of the most advanced technology available.

Linhardt and Jian Liu at the University of North Carolina discovered the "recipe" for synthetic heparin five years ago. Today, Linhardt and his team have prepared a purer, safer alternative creating the first fully synthetic heparin, and the largest amount ever created in the laboratory.

Linhardt will be joined in the discussion by fellow heparin experts Zachary Shriver of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ali Al-Hakim of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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