SYDNEY, Australia  Two separate Australian research groups are working on techniques for treating blood clots  techniques that they describe as breakthroughs. One involves a new class of anti-clotting compounds and the other a new means of detecting clots.

Both groups have patent applications and commercial negotiations in progress, and are reluctant to release anything more than the barest details of the techniques.

The first, discovered at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD) at Monash University, in Melbourne, is a new class of anti-clotting agents called EPA inhibitors. EPA has been identified by researchers at the center as playing a critical role in the formation of blood clots.

Discovered by Hatem Salem and Shaun Jackson at the ACBD, the inhibitors are now being developed by a company associated with the center, Thrombogenix Pty. Ltd., in Melbourne.

Thrombogenix¿s CEO, Elane Zelcer, would not give any details about EPA or the new class of anti-clotting agents beyond saying they are ¿not proteins.¿ The agents are the subject of a patent application and to give details would not be in the company¿s best financial interests, she said.

Zelcer said the new class of agents is promising and appears to avoid the disadvantages of the existing anti-clotting, GP IIB/IIIA group of compounds. Those agents have significant side effects and are given only to severely ill patients.

¿For non-acute patients, all [doctors] can really give them is aspirin,¿ she said.

Thrombogenix, which is also working on a range of products developed at the ACBD, including a diagnostic instrument that measures clotting tendency, will further develop the compounds and aims to sign a license agreement with a major pharmaceutical company.

After Early Publicity, Mum¿s The Word

The second technique is a new means of detecting blood clots when they are formed and before they can break away and end up in the lungs, where they can do severe damage. Developed at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR), which is attached to the Australian National University, in Canberra, the technique is thought to involve an injectable graphite particle combined with another particle and a radioactive compound.

The work at the JCSMR  based on an existing product known as Technegas, developed in the 1980s and used to detect blood clots in the lung  is sufficiently far advanced for the product to be given a name: ThromboTrace.

But project head Bill Burch of the JCSMR said that, after preliminary publicity (an article in the university newspaper), he had been banned from making any further comment about the product, due to existing ¿delicate negotiations.¿

The university newspaper article indicates that ThromboTrace can be dissolved in water, allowing it to be injected and circulate around the body to attach to any blood clot, so it can be seen with a scanner.

Burch said, in the article, that removing a clot by dissolving it is a dangerous procedure, so correct diagnosis is important. By ensuring the diagnosis is right, Thrombo Trace will make a big difference to a large number of people, he told the newspaper.

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