SYDNEY, July 23 (Xinhua) -- A new drug developed by Australian researchers has shown promise as prevention against heart attack and stroke, and may also have the potential to treat COVID-19 triggered blood clotting.
The research published in Science Translational Medicine on Thursday revealed that the drug displayed in animal testing the ability to temporarily prevent platelet-triggered blood clots, which can cause heart attack or stroke.
Researchers were hopeful the drug could also be used to treat COVID-19 patients who developed similar blood clotting -- which according to them occurs in around 75 percent of those critically ill with coronavirus and is a major cause of death associated with the virus.
"The possibility of using our newly developed anti-thrombotic to improve the treatment of COVID-19 patients is an appealing idea we would like to explore," said lead researcher, Associate Professor Justin Hamilton from the Monash University's Australian Centre of Blood Diseases.
Hamilton explained that the potential drug was found by accident when researchers were observing the changes within platelets around the time a stroke or heart attack occurs and stumbled upon the enzyme of interest.
"This enzyme allows the platelets to respond to this blood flow change and to 'gear up' their capacity to clot, causing an attack," Hamilton said.
"It is this blood flow perturbation which is a hallmark and predictor of a heart attack."
By temporarily stopping the enzyme initiating this process, the new drug can limit the cells sticking together and hence forming a clot, which can block blood supply to the heart or the brain.
Hamilton explained that there have been very limited developments over the past decade and a half in alternatives offered to patients suffering these conditions.
"There has been no new drugs to treat, let alone prevent, heart attack or stroke in more than 15 years," Hamilton said.
Current drugs used to prevent further blood clotting at the time of heart attack or stroke, such as aspirin, only work in around 25 percent of cases, and have the possibility of causing serious side effects.
Researchers are now working on improving the drug for next stage clinical trials. Enditem