Grant-sponsored research to improve diagnostics of blood clotting

Research Associate Alina Peshkova obtained funding from the Russian Science Foundation.

Her project is dedicated to one of the pertinent problems of contemporary biomedicine – deciphering the mechanisms of blood clotting and related diseases, thus improving treatment practices of thrombosis or excessive bleeding.

“We want to solve several problems. One of them is the study of blood clotting disorders in coronavirus infection. The emergence of COVID-19 posed new questions for scientists and doctors related to the high risk of thrombosis in immunity deficiencies and extensive inflammation. We plan to investigate disorders of the contraction of blood clots as one of the mechanisms of development of blood clots in coronavirus,” emphasizes Peshkova.

Another objective of the project is to assess the therapeutic efficacy of blood products – platelet concentrates – depending on the methods of their production and their shelf life. Blood transfusion centers prepare a concentrate of platelets – cells involved in blood clotting. These cells are transfused into patients to prevent or stop bleeding during surgery. The effectiveness of the drugs depends on the functional state of the platelets. For example, if you store them for a long time, they stop working. The researcher studies the vitality of platelets in drugs in order to find the best way to use them.

The third objective is to show and study for the first time the role of aggregation (adhesion of cells to each other) and deformation of erythrocytes in the process of formation and maturation of blood clots.

“The study of blood cells and the structure of blood clots will help to reveal the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hemostasis disorders. This will provide a scientific basis for improving the methods of diagnosis, prevention and treatment of thrombotic complications,” comments the winner.

Peshkova has been involved in hemostasis research since 2014 as part of the Protein-Cell Interactions Lab, headed by Professor Rustem Litvinov. Since that time, the young scientist has co-authored over 20 papers on the matter.

“First, we patented a new method for studying the kinetics of blood clot contraction, which formed the basis of my research. This method helps examine the process of contraction of a blood clot over time. We tested the method on the blood of patients from different clinical groups. In particular, the tests showed the diagnostic and prognostic value of the blood clot contraction test in patients with ischemic stroke, venous thromboembolic complications, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. It turned out that the rate and completeness of clot compression in the blood of patients differ from those of healthy people. In patients at risk of thrombosis or already with thrombosis, the compression of blood clots is much weaker and slower than normal. This means that the defense mechanism aimed at reducing the size of intravascular thrombi works much worse,” she says.

According to Peshkova, existing clinical methods are not always capable of foreseeing bleeding, and their ability to predict patients’ proneness to thrombosis is quite limited.

“Routine clinical and laboratory tests used today are not very informative, since they are not necessarily based on modern concepts of blood coagulation. That is why the study of the fundamental mechanisms of blood coagulation, hemostasis and thrombosis, the development of new diagnostic tests on their basis, as well as methods of prevention and treatment, is an extremely urgent problem,” continues Peshkova.

The uniqueness of the project is that it exists on the crossroads of hematology, cell biology, biochemistry, and biophysics. This leads to implementing a number of mutually reinforcing research techniques.

Based on the results of scientific work, it is planned to obtain several results. In particular, based on the eventual data, it will be possible to compare and evaluate the informativeness of different laboratory tests and their clinical significance, including monitoring the effectiveness of thromboprophylaxis and anticoagulant therapy in patients with COVID-19.

The projects will be implemented in 2021 – 2023 in cooperation with the Kazan University Clinic, 16th Kazan City Hospital, and Interregional Clinical Diagnostics Center.

The social significance of research of bleeding and thrombosis cannot be overestimated. According to statistics, cardiovascular diseases, including hemostasis disorders, remain the leading cause of death worldwide. They account for more than 17 million deaths a year. According to WHO estimates, in the next 15 years, more than 23 million people will die from cardiovascular diseases in the world every year.

The share of diseases of the circulatory system in the overall structure of mortality in Russia is more than 56 percent. About 80 percent of thrombosis can be prevented if thrombosis is anticipated and early prevention is started. The increase in mortality in 2020 is primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This infection was either the main cause of death or exacerbated the course of other diseases, including cardiovascular diseases with a high risk of fatal thrombotic complications.

 

Source text: Alina Minnevalieva

Photo: Alina Peshkova

Translation: Yury Nurmeev

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