October 13th is World Thrombosis day this year. This day highlights this hugely important disease to increase awareness of thrombosis around the world. Thrombosis refers to a blood clot that forms in an artery or vein. As the disorder that triggers the world’s top three cardiovascular killers: heart attack, stroke and venous thromboembolism (VTE – a blood clot mostly in the leg or lungs), thrombosis is arguably the worlds most important medical condition. Cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death in Ireland, accounting for over one third of deaths. The largest number of these deaths relate to CHD – mainly heart attack, which together with stroke accounts for approximately 7% of mortality – more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer combined. Recently published results from the ENDORSE study in Ireland suggest that over half of patients admitted to Irish hospitals are at risk for VTE and that of these, only 57% are receiving recommended prophylaxis.
While a range of antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs are available to prevent catastrophic events in patients with CVD, with recommended regimens to guide their use, it remains difficult to predict individual responses to treatment. Currently there are no biochemical markers to stratify patients within broad categories of cardiovascular disease on the basis of risk: to identify patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) at higher risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack); to predict bleeding risk on intensive antiplatelet regimens such as those used post-percutaneous intervention (stenting); or to differentiate patients with atrial fibrillation on the basis of stroke risk. Our R&D programme will identify markers for these patient groups. Development of biomarkers to identify patients at risk of under- or over-treatment with antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs would allow truly personalised medicine, with drug regimens tailored to each patient’s risk of thrombosis or bleeding.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the main therapeutic areas of expertise here in Java. Indeed, we were recently awarded an R&D grant from Enterprise Ireland, to refine analysis methods developed during in-house R&D and apply them to this patient population. We are currently developing techniques to look at changes in proteins within platelets of healthy volunteers and CVD patients. This shall allow for greater insight into the biology of this type of disease at the protein level. Platelets have a central role in arterial thrombosis and are an excellent tissue to study for biomarker giving insights into disease progression, personalised medicine, and response to treatments.
We look forward to sharing the ourcomes of our research over the next year, which hopefully will make some strides into reducing this global disease burden.