Preserving the Body's Vital Flow
Thrombosis, the formation of harmful or potentially fatal clots in the bloodstream, results from a complex interaction between the blood vessel wall and various components in the blood. The current approach to this problem relies on accurate diagnosis and treatment with specific anticoagulant drugs. It would be more effective, however, to deal with thrombosis in a fundamental way, by understanding the underlying genetic and biochemical events that give rise to the problem in the first place.
As holder of the Canada Research Chair in Thrombosis, Jeffrey Weitz will seek out this understanding. Following a comprehensive bench-to-bedside program, he will explore the most basic molecular dynamics responsible for this condition, expanding this research to develop clinical treatments that have value for patients who have already been diagnosed and are currently being treated.
This approach has already improved the standard of care being given to thrombosis patients. Dr. Weitz and his colleagues demonstrated the efficacy of a new drug regimen that could be administered on an out-patient basis, improving the quality of life for these individuals by enabling them to recover at home. At the same time, the health care system saved the cost of the five- to seven-day hospital stay the former therapy entailed.
Dr. Weitz has also characterized the structure and function of various clotting enzymes, and has used these insights to create new types of anticoagulant drugs that are now being tested. He intends to build on this success by examining the specific molecular changes that take place in blood vessel walls and give rise to thrombosis. The results of this research should identify the proteins to be targetted as part of a gene therapy, which should combat the very basis of the disorder.