New research has revealed the drug that can prevent blood clotting during infection, reducing the risk of several diseases and even death.
That’s according to biomedical scientist Professor Luke O’Neill, who said this drug might ensure blood clots only occur when needed.
“When your blood is exposed to air [from a cut], they begin to form these clots and cut over each other and mesh,” he told Futureproof with Jonathan McCrea.
“It’s very important – you don’t want to bleed out.”
Despite that, blood clotting can also occur when a blood vessel breaks within our bodies, posing a danger to our health.
“[Clotting] is a normal process that can go off the rails,” Prof O’Neill said. “A heart attack is often caused by a blood clot, or it could be in the brain in case of a stroke.”
If you have bacteria in your bloodstream, the blood can also clot around it to prevent it spreading – but if you have an infection, the clotting system “goes crazy” according to Prof O’Neill.
“Tiny clots form and go all over your body and they will cause your kidney to fail, your liver might fail, your heart might fail,” he said. “You’re dying in a sense – your major organs are filling up with clots.”
Lucking upon a discovery
However, over the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists “lucked upon” a discovery – when investigating the clots formed by COVID, Prof O’Neill and his colleagues discovered dimethyl fumarate (DMF) can prevent harmful clotting while facilitating helpful clotting.
DMF, used for MS and psoriasis, blocks a chemical known as interferons that cause harmful clotting while allowing necessary clotting to continue.
Prof O’Neill and his colleagues are due to publish their research soon and hope eventually companies will produce DMF for anti-clotting.
“Doctors can even prescribe DMF now – maybe one or two courageous doctors might. It’s still experimental right now... ideally, you’d want a trial and show that it stops interferons in humans.
“Trials sometimes fail, not because the drug is no good, but because the trial just isn't designed properly.”
Still, Prof O’Neill was optimistic this drug could transform treatment for clotting.
“My job now becomes an advocate to say ‘look, there's something very interesting here’,” he said.
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