21 Jun 2017

New blood test a boon to clot research

PhD student Hannah Pearce with Dr Thomas
Bonnard, first author on the paper describing
a new test for measuring thrombolytic activity
by Anne Crawford

Monash University researchers have developed a novel blood assay that is proving highly effective in researching thrombosis (blood clotting) and which could potentially become a valuable tool in clinical translation.

Heart attack and stroke – leading causes of death and disability in Australia – are mostly caused by thrombosis. Researchers around the world are striving to improve anti-thrombotic treatments that counter the life-threatening blood clots without the associated side-effect of excessive bleeding.


Scientists from the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD) NanoBiotechnology Laboratory decided to develop a test to overcome the limitations of two main existing assays. First author Dr Thomas Bonnard said thromboelastography (TEG) did not distinguish whether a thrombolytic (clot dissolving) drug prevented the formation of a clot or degraded a clot once it had formed.

The other test for thrombolysis – the plasma clot lysis assay – is limited only to the blood plasma and did not take in blood platelets, or red or white blood cells. “So you cut out a big part of the blood coagulation system,” Dr Bonnard said.

The research team developed a high-throughput assay for testing thrombolytic activity in vitro using whole blood samples, which overcomes these limitations. The data produced gives a highly detailed profile of the rate of thrombolysis, allowing researchers to quickly compare different anti-clot agents.

The test is affordable, broadly accessible and easy to use by laboratory researchers, Dr Bonnard said.

“It’s an easy and fast way to reliably measure thrombolysis in whole, human blood,” he said.

It used very small amounts of blood which would be of clinical benefit as it meant that more conditions could be tested from the same amount of blood, or less blood used.

Importantly, the test could measure the effect of clot maturation time (e.g. whether the clot was 30 minutes or four hours old) on the rate it dissolves, an aspect of increasing importance in clot-busting drug development.

The ACBD research team, which has been using the assay for some time, enlisted it recently in studies to determine the thrombolytic capability of thrombin-activated drugs they hope will form potent new treatments for clots.

The team is further developing the assay so it can be adapted for clinical use.

The study, published in ‘Nature Scientific Reports’ last month, was led by Associate Professor Christoph Hagemeyer, group leader of the NanoBiotechnology Laboratory.


Bonnard T, Law LS, Tennant Z, Hagemeyer CE. Development and validation of a high throughput whole blood thrombolysis plate assay. Sci Rep. 2017 May 24;7(1):2346. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02498-2.

See also http://ccsmonash.blogspot.com.au/search?q=hagemeyer

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