Using gold nanoparticles, MIT researchers have devised a new way to turn blood clotting on and off. Blood clotting is produced by a long cascade of protein interactions, culminating in the formation of fibrin, a fibrous protein that seals wounds. Currently, the only way doctors can manage blood clotting is by administering blood thinners such as heparin. This reduces clotting, but there is no way to counteract the effects of heparin and other blood thinners. Heparin and other blood thinners interfere with this process by targeting several of the reactions that occur during the blood-clotting cascade. A better solution, Hamad-Schifferli says, would be an agent that targets only the last step — the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin, a reaction mediated by an enzyme called thrombin.
Authors hope that the current approach of using gold nanoparticles, which are controlled by infrared laser light, could help doctors control blood clotting in patients undergoing surgery, or promote wound healing.