History of The Haemostasis Reseach Unit
The Haemostasis Research Unit was set up by Prof Sam Machin and Dr Ian Mackie more than 25 years ago, to investigate the pathophysiology of thrombosis and bleeding disorders. Over 200 publications have resulted from our work and a selection are listed on the Unit website (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/haemostasis/hru-papers). The main areas of research within this field have involved work with new platelet inhibitor drugs, platelet function testing, the antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS), combined oral contraceptives, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), the kallikrein-kinin system, thrombin generation and point of care testing.
We are currently investigating different target proteins for the auto-antibodies present in blood from patients with APS and potential mechanisms for thrombosis (a frequent complication in these patients). We are also studying the ability of these antibodies to inhibit fibrinolysis (the clot dissolving system) and promote thrombin generation (thrombin is the enzyme that causes fibrin clot formation). Certain patients make increased amounts of thrombin and are resistant to a natural inhibitor protein (protein C), something also seen in women receiving oral contraception, although for different reasons. We are trying to establish the exact causes of this abnormality. We recently discovered that patients with a disorder that causes very large numbers of platelets to circulate in blood may also have anti-phospholipid antibodies, without having autoimmune disease. We hope to see how these antibodies differ from those in APS and further explore the phenomenon.
TTP is a rare, but life threatening disease that usually involves an abnormality of a recently discovered enzyme known as ADAMTS-13. This enzyme controls the activity of a plasma protein called von Willebrand factor (VWF), which is responsible for helping platelets to stick at a wound site and plug the hole in the blood vessel. If the activity of VWF is too high and uncontrolled, blood platelets tend to stick together in places where they are not required, which can cause clumps of platelets in the capillaries. This results in thrombosis, red blood cell damage, lysis and tissue injury. We have developed a number of laboratory methods for measuring ADAMTS-13 and VWF activity in TTP and are performing clinical trials of new treatments.
We like to involve a partnership of both clinicians and scientists in our various areas of research. This requires a continuous fund raising exercise and we rely heavily on philanthropic contributions.
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This page last modified
1 March, 2011