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Preventing Fatal Blood Clots


My name is Dr Tom McKinnon.
I work here at Imperial College London, based at Hammersmith Hospital,
and my research is into how blood clots. My research focuses around a protein called
Von Willebrand factor (VWF), which is heavily involved in the blood clotting process, but
it’s also involved in the formation of excessive blood clots. Blood clotting is a natural process. Under certain circumstances, excessive blood clotting plays a major role in heart attacks
and strokes, by limiting your blood supply. We’re looking at how Von Willebrand factor functions, i.e. in a situation that mimics the blood flow in your vascular system. We now know
that elevated levels of VWF in the bloodstream are a risk factor for various types of cardiovascular
disease, such as strokes and heart attacks. Some of the work we do involves making mutant
proteins to try to work out different regions of the protein that we can safely target. We can visualise VWF in whole blood and examining platelet capture in real time. I’ve always
been fascinated with how blood works and with how blood clots, and I’ve always been very
interested in what happens to those patients. The ultimate goal of my research is to design
a drug that will safely stop fatal blood clots but at the same time not cause bleeding side
effects. Without the funding that I’ve received via the BHF, none of the research that I have
done over the past 13 years would have taken place and hopefully the BHF will continue
to fund my groundbreaking research.

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