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Sepsis buster

Receptor helps clears blood-clotting factors

For years the Ashwell receptor has been the Paris Hilton of the liver — famous for being famous — but now researchers have discovered that the receptor has talent.

Ashwell receptors are important for clearing blood-clotting factors, including platelets and von Willebrand factor, during sepsis, an infection of the blood, a team of researchers report in the May 18 Nature Medicine. The discovery solves a decades-old mystery about the receptor’s function and may dramatically change treatment for life-threatening sepsis cases.

“People have been wondering for almost 40 years ‘what does this receptor do?’” says Ajit Varki, a physician-scientist specializing in glycobiology at the University of California, San Diego.

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