Putting Blood, Sweat and Tears into Clot Prevention

Putting Blood, Sweat and Tears into Clot Prevention


So what I’ve got in my hands here is what
we call a catheter product. Catheters are little plastic tubes that we
run through lots of different pathways in the body, but quite often through blood. One of the very first technologies that we
developed was a technology that actually changes the chemistry on the surface of the material,
and by presenting that diverse chemistry we can actually fool proteins, as they’re interacting
with this plastic, to think that they’re still swimming around in blood. And if you can do that with proteins that
are involved in the clotting pathway, you can stop clots from happening on these foreign
surfaces. And a blood clot is a problem because if you
create a clot and then the flow comes by and breaks it off, that clot goes down the stream
and could plug a very important artery. So this technology allows patients, for instance
who are in chemotherapy, to have one of these catheter lines in feeding the therapeutics
for upwards of two years without inducing a clot. It reduces the incidence of infection, because
once you form clots, clots are proteins, and bacteria love protein surfaces. You reduce the incidence of infection by 800
percent. This is another device that has benefitted
from that same additive technology. It has about 6,000 little fibres in here. You actually had to make these fibres and
then go coat them individually. It would be hugely laborious. What we get to do is extrude these fibres,
and as we extrude these fibres, the additive migrates to the surface. Those additives, again, reduce clotting. Every time a patient undergoes a dialysis
treatment, it’s about $8 worth of anticoagulant that’s used. In North America alone, somewhere on the order
of a million dialysis procedures are done a day. Even if you reduced the amount of heparin
by about one dollar’s worth, that would be one dollar times a million, times 365 days
a year. You can see the impact that that has on the
cost of healthcare. So it’s a great story of chemistry of materials,
production of materials, knowledge of biology, all the knowledge of all those proteins, and
how those proteins interact with blood elements that induce clotting. It’s about three decades’ worth of research. This is why we fund fundamental research in
Canada: so that we can take that fundamental knowledge and package it all together in the
end to create an impactful technology like this.

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About the Author: John Markowski

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