SOURCE: Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

October 28, 2011 09:54 ET

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Collaborating Institutions Announce Major Heparin Breakthrough

ALBANY, NY--(Marketwire - Oct 28, 2011) - Researchers at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS), in collaboration with colleagues at the University of North Carolina and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, have made a significant advancement in the development of a form of the popular blood thinner heparin.

In a paper published in the October 28 issue of Science, Shaker A. Mousa, Vice Provost of Research at ACPHS, and Majde Takieddin, Research Scientist at ACPHS's Pharmaceutical Research Institute, are among the authors who outline a new process to manufacture anticoagulant ultra-low molecular weight heparin (U-LMWH).

While U-LMWH is the most expensive of the three forms of heparin (the other two are standard heparin and low molecular weight heparin), it is highly effective and safe. It offers another key advantage -- patients using traditional heparin and low molecular weight heparin are at risk of developing a disorder called Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT). HIT can cause an expansion of existing blood clots and the development of new clots, which could lead to a loss of blood supply to the extremities, and potentially, amputation. With standard heparin, the risk of HIT is approximately 3-10%; with low molecular weight heparin, the estimated risk is 1-3%. There is minimal to no risk of HIT from U-LMWH.

In the article in Science, titled, "Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Homogeneous Ultralow Molecular Weight Heparins," researchers describe a new 10-12 step process to make U-LMWH that leverages biotechnology in place of traditional chemistry. This approach is substantially more efficient than the 17 step chemistry-intensive process used currently and results in a higher yield of the final product. It is also less labor intensive and less costly than the present method.

Mousa and Takieddin, along with the technical staff and post-doctoral fellows at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences' Pharmaceutical Research Institute, played a key role in the discovery by testing the U-LMWH compound produced by this new process. By confirming that the new compound is bio-equivalent to the current U-LMWH available on the market (brand name Arixtra), they provided the assurance needed to validate the work and pave the way for future advances in the prevention and treatment of conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

"The development of a more efficient method for producing ultra-low molecular weight heparin could help lower the cost of the medication, making it more accessible to more patients. As a result, we could see a decrease in the number of people who suffer from HIT, and an increase in the number who can enjoy the other benefits associated with U-LMWH," said Dr. Mousa.

About Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a private, independent institution committed to graduating the best health care minds in the world. The College's main campus is located in Albany, New York; its satellite campus is in Colchester, Vermont. For more information, please visit www.acphs.edu.

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