New micro-device will help identify risks of thrombosis in real time

New micro-device will help identify risks of thrombosis in real time
New micro-device will help identify risks of thrombosis in real time

Russian scientists, together with foreign colleagues, have tested a new device capable of monitoring the formation of blood clots in real time. The principle of its operation is based on the registration of changes in the reflection of laser light from the surface of the vessel. Experiments have shown that the system is able to detect blood clots even at the initial stages of their growth, which will help to identify the risks of thrombosis long before it leads to the development of heart disease.


An article on the work supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) was published in the Journal of Clinical Laboratory Analysis. Heart disease has been the leading cause of death worldwide for 20 years now, and since the turn of the century, the number of cases has increased by more than two million, reaching nine million. Often, their development is based on the body's defense mechanisms. So, when the blood flow rate increases, as if an artery were damaged, the von Willebrand factor is activated.

This blood plasma protein with a carbohydrate tail changes its shape from complex to simpler so that platelet receptors can bind to it. As a result, the cells adhere to the damaged vessel, closing the gap and preventing fatal blood loss. At the same time, if the rate of blood flow decreases in the vessels of the heart for one reason or another, the same factor can lead to the formation of a clot, or thrombus. Full or partial closure of the vessel is fraught with the death of heart tissue and the development of coronary heart disease.

Russian scientists, together with foreign colleagues, have developed an instrument capable of registering clot formation. “An important distinguishing feature of our technology is the ability to study the hydrodynamic, that is, the activation of the von Willebrand factor arising under the influence of fluid movement.

It is critically important for the formation of a thrombus in the event of vascular damage in the arterial bed at high blood flow rates. Currently, not only on the Russian, but also on the world market, there are no devices capable of routinely measuring the activity of a factor in the flow,”says the project manager for a grant from the Russian Science Foundation, Zufar Gabbasov, Doctor of Biological Sciences, head of the Cellular Hemostasis Laboratory at the National Medical Research Center of Cardiology.

Employees of the National Medical Research Center for Cardiology (Moscow), the Y.A. Moscow) demonstrated how their device tracks the attachment of platelets to fibrinogen - the protein "framework" of a thrombus.

The experiment involved seven healthy volunteers and two patients aged 30 to 55 years. One of the patients suffered from autoimmune thrombocytopenia - a disease accompanied by a decrease in the level of platelets - and the other had the most severe form of von Willebrand disease, in which the corresponding factor is completely absent. Both participants in the experiment had impaired blood clotting and bruises and even bleeding were often observed.

“The essence of the device is to register how the reflection of laser light from the wall region of the vessel changes. The study is performed using disposable microfluidic chips, or cartridges, in a fully automated mode. Whole blood is supplied for analysis immediately after collection, the process itself takes no more than 10-15 minutes.

Thanks to this, the device can be widely introduced into clinical diagnostic laboratories and there is reason to expect a wide range of applications: heart attacks and assessment of the risk of thrombotic complications in coronary heart disease and infectious diseases, as well as the prognosis of possible bleeding before and after surgery,”notes Zufar Gabbasov.

The results of the study showed that the developed test system effectively registers a future thrombus under conditions of a controlled flow - this changes the scattering of laser light. The authors also added to the samples substances that block platelet receptors with which von Willebrand factor or fibrinogen interacts.

In the case of the former, thrombus formation decreased in samples from healthy individuals and from a patient with thrombocytopenia; in the absence of a factor, nothing has changed. The addition of a fibrinogen receptor blocker drug completely prevented the formation of clots. All these processes were recorded by the device.

“In our work, we study how the process of adhesion of blood cells can occur at high rates of blood flow in places of vascular damage and rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque - a clot on the vessel wall - when collagen fibers are exposed. Future plans include a comprehensive study of the parameters of parietal thrombus formation and violations of von Willebrand factor activation in patients with early onset of coronary heart disease, which is an urgent task of modern medicine,”sums up Zufar Gabbasov.

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