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New blood thinner studied for patients with leg and lung clots

lot if his or her level is in the proper range," Dr. Gossage says.

The trouble is that a big helping of collard greens, for example, can dramatically reduce the drug's effectiveness and increase clotting risk. Patients are encouraged to eat stable diets, but even so, Dr. Gossage has patients whose blood levels, charted on a graph, look like a roller coaster.

Many common over-the-counter and prescription drugs contribute to the problem by affecting the liver mechanism that determines how much and how fast warfarin is eliminated, Dr. Gossage says. "We are looking for medicines that are more like most others we take; they are not affected by our diet and by every other pill we take," he says.

Previous work with dabigatran indicates it could fit the bill. It works early in the clotting process, inhibiting thrombin, one of the main clotting factors. "When you cut yourself, platelets start sticking, thrombin comes in and activates the whole cascade of coagulation factors that form a clot. Warfarin works later in the cascade, so getting something that works earlier may be even better," says Dr. Gossage.

"Hopefully we won't have these big swings in the level and people won't have these periods where they are at great risk," says Dr. Gossage. "I can give you a dose and it's going to work the same way whether you are eating broccoli or spinach or taking penicillin or some other antibiotic"

This phase III study randomizes patients to warfarin or dabigatran and closely follows them for 18 months. If dabigatran appears ineffective, patients are moved to more standard therapy. All blood thinners can have the side effect of bleeding, he notes.

Immobility, blood vessel injury and anything that increases blood's tendency to clot, called hypercoagulability, are risk factors for clots. "Most people think you have to have at least two of those, says Dr. Gossage.

Long plane rides or hospital stays can put patients
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
12-Feb-2007


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