washingtonpost.com
Building Better Clots
Building Better Clots

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

The blue, web-like strands in this colorized image are fibers that have formed a blood clot with red blood cells (the ruby globules) and platelets (the smaller, purple globules). Understanding the mechanical properties of such fibers may help promote better treatment of clots that can turn deadly.

Though clotting is an essential body function -- it stops the bleeding after a cut -- clots with overly stiff fibers obstruct blood flow and can cause heart attacks and strokes. Weak clot fibers, on the other hand, may not bind properly with red blood cells.

Using a laser beam, John W. Weisel, a University of Pennsylvania professor of cell and developmental biology, measured the stiffness of blood fibers -- how much they bend as blood flows past -- in a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He calls the research an early step toward developing a method or drug to achieve blood-clotting equilibrium.

-- Matt McMillen

© 2005 The Washington Post Company