Friday, January 13, 2006

Clotting Along

Chemical & Engineering News is featuring an article from the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences on a new discovery in how our blood clots. Researchers have discovered that a common inorganic polymer, polyphosphate, helps speed blood clotting and slows a protein that is responsible for destroying clots. The mechanism by which our body heals cuts and scrapes was thought to be fully understood, which is what makes this finding quite unexpected.

We were all told in high school biology that platelets are responsible for forming blood clots. While this is still true, the means by which this happens is now better understood. The initial clue to this investigation was a micrograph of a platelet showing some dark circles. These dots turned out to be polyphosphate granules. These little grains are released by the platelets, which jump-starts a biochemical cascade that stops your scraped knee from bleeding.

The pure science here is great discovery, and this has pretty good potential to improve our ability to control blood clotting.


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