January 26, 2011

New Way to Treat Fatal Blood Disorder

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a potentially-fatal blood disorder that causes blood clots to form in small blood vessels that affect many organs including the liver, kidneys, heart, pancreas, and brain. Now, researchers have found a new and effective treatment for TTP.

The current treatment is infusion of plasma, but it has been proven insufficient. A team of researchers, led by Jos© L³pez, at the Puget Sound Blood Center in Seattle, has generated data in mice that suggests the drug N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is FDA approved as a treatment for chronic obstructive lung disease and as an antidote for toxicity due to acetaminophen (paracetamol), might provide a rapid and effective treatment for patients with TTP. The researchers say it has the ability to decrease the size of the protein von Willebrand factor (vWF) multimers, which promotes the formation of blood clots.

The study showed that, in mice, NAC reduces vWF under all conditions, and it proved to be an effective treatment.

In an accompanying commentary, Michael Berndt and Robert Andrews, agree with L³pez and his colleagues' findings, although they caution that there are a number of warnings to the view that NAC could be used to treat patients with TTP.

SOURCE: The Journal of Clinical Investigation, January 25, 2011