Vital discovery may save many from traumatic deaths
Nov 5, 2009 - 3:06:20 PM

Researchers have unravelled how certain proteins can enter the bloodstream and begin to kill the lining of blood vessels, resulting in uncontrolled internal bleeding. Their discovery could help save thousands from traumatic deaths, caused by car crashes or on the battlefield.

Building on this work, Charles Esmon, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation - cardiovascular biology researcher, and a team of collaborators have discovered an antibody that could counter this deadly process.

'This discovery could open the door to new ways to treat soldiers hurt in IED - attacks, gunshot wound victims and people who suffer a traumatic injury,' said Esmon.

'When we realised that histones were so toxic, we immediately went to work looking for a way to stop their destructive tendencies.' Inside the cells, histones perform an important function, keeping DNA coiled and compressed inside the nucleus.

But the OMRF researchers found that when cells become damaged and burst -- either through injury, infection or diseases such as diabetes -- histones can enter the bloodstream and begin to kill the lining of blood vessels. This results in uncontrolled internal bleeding and fluid build-up in the tissues, which are life-threatening.

Working with Temple University's Marc Monestier, the group discovered antibodies - that can block the histones ability to kill.

'When a patient is suffering from severe bleeds, these antibodies could prevent multi-organ failure,' said Esmon.

The researchers have already tested the antibodies in pre-clinical trials, where they showed promising results and no adverse effects. A potential future step, said Esmon, would be human trials.

Esmon's research has already yielded two FDA-approved drugs.

The findings were published online in Nature Medicine.

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