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Stopping platelets at the source

New treatment may prevent blood clots without boosting bleeding risk

Slowing the production of clot-forming platelets may protect against heart attack and stroke without the risk of excessive bleeding posed by aspirin and other anti-clotting medications, scientists report. The new study, in which an antibody is used to limit the outflow of clot-forming platelets from the bone marrow in baboons, appears in the June 23 Science Translational Medicine.

Preventing blood clots is a delicate business. Clots lodged in arteries are responsible for most strokes and heart attacks, which is why many people take aspirin or prescription drugs — to make platelets less likely to bind to a protein called fibrin and form a clot.

But clotting also serves a life-saving purpose by stanching bleeding from a wound, internal or external. Reducing clotting too zealously places a person at risk of bleeding to death.

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