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“Past, present and future of heparin”

20 Sep 2016

Scientific lecture at the ISTH Congress by Dr. Coen Hemker, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Biochemistry of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, School of Medicine of Maastricht University (The Netherlands) .

The International Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis (ISTH) celebrated its annual meeting in Montpellier and devoted the cultural and networking event to the Centenary of the Discovery of Heparin. The lecture was given by Dr. Coen Hemker, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Biochemistry of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, School of Medicine of Maastricht University (The Netherlands).

Recent studies show that there is no standard response to Heparin treatment and that it must be adapted for each patient to further improve its efficacy and security. 

We have been able to confirm via plasma analysis that there are individuals for whom Heparin has little effect and others who have an excessive response to it”, declares Professor Coen Hemker, biochemist and Professor Emeritus of Maastricht University, who adds: “This variation in the response to Heparin is due to a variation that exists in the amount of thrombin that each individual generates”. Thrombin is a blood protein which, on the one hand, activates the cells which form thrombi (platelets) and on the other, makes blood coagulate, as such it is a determining factor in balancing thrombosis and bleeding. In fact, researchers have shown that with greater thrombin production there is a greater risk of thrombosis. 

For this reason, Professor Hemker emphasises the need to administer the dose of this medicine in a personalised manner: “Heparin is a hundred-year old medication with a solid scientific base with highly proven efficacy and security. But if its administration were personalised based on each patient's thrombin production, its effect and security profile would be even further improved”. 

This is the main conclusion of the masterful conference that Professor Hemker gave during the Annual Meeting of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) taking place in Montpellier (France), dedicated to “The Past, The Present and The Future of Heparin”, to celebrate the Centenary of its Discovery. The session has around 1,000 attendees and with the collaboration of Bioibérica

“There are very few medications discovered a hundred years ago which are still in widespread clinical use. We can also confirm that Heparin is a medicine with a future because, apart from its anti-coagulant activity, new applications are being investigated in illnesses which have an important inflammatory component”, explains Professor Hemker.  

Heparin is the most commonly used anti-coagulant in thrombosis prevention and treatment. According to data by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 1 out of every 4 people in the world die due to causes related with this illness which already causes more annual deaths than AIDS, breast cancer and traffic accidents combined. Specifically, venous thromboembolic disease is the second leading cause of death in cancer patients and third in vascular diseases. 

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