Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco(UCSF), have identified and cloned the gene for a protein thatmay be instrumental in the development of new anti-clottingagents.

The protein, called the thrombin receptor, is a key player in theformation of blood clots. Drugs that modulate the receptor'sactivity may prevent the formation of harmful clots incardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attacks andangina.

The UCSF team, led by Dr. Shaun Coughlin, described thecloning of the thrombin receptor gene in Friday's issue of thejournal Cell. The scientists also showed that when thrombinactivates its receptor on platelets, the platelets aggregate toform clumps.

UCSF has filed a patent application for the thrombin receptorand certain potential drug leads, said Coughlin.

Coughlin, an assistant professor at UCSF is also co-founder andscientific adviser at COR Therapeutics Inc., a privately heldbiopharmaceutical company in South San Francisco, Calif., thatis developing novel therapeutics for the treatment ofthrombosis and other cardiovascular diseases.

Current anti-coagulants, such as aspirin and heparin, arelimited by their side effects. Other biotech companiesdeveloping anti-coagulants include Telios Pharmaceuticals Inc.of San Diego, which is working with Genentech Inc. of South SanFrancisco to develop peptide-based anti-clotting agents.Glycomed Inc. of Alameda, Calif., is developing carbohydrate-based anti-coagulants, and Biogen Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., isdeveloping a genetically engineered snake venom anti-coagulant.

-- Rachel Nowak Washington Bureau Chief

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