The powerful enzyme Thrombin is by far the most robust activator of platelets and blood clotting (coagulation) in both physiological haemostasis and pathological thrombotic response. Therapeutic inhibition of thrombin has been shown effective to be an effective anti-thrombotic agents however, all current inhibitors of this enzyme lead to severe bleeding complications.
In studies performed in collaboration with Professor Richard Payne, ARC Future Fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Chemistry, we have characterised novel anti-clotting agents that have been based around naturally occurring proteins found in saliva of mosquito’s. Like most blood-feeding organisms, the Anopheles mosquito secretes proteins in its saliva that are specifically designed to prevent the host organism’s blood from clotting, to allow the mosquito to access its blood-meal.
Our studies have demonstrated that these bug-derived proteins are able to dissolve blood clots in a disease model of thrombosis with less bleeding complications. This research lays the foundation for the development of safe anticoagulants for the treatment of thromboembolic diseases such as stroke in the future.