Scientists discover source of life-threatening blood clots


Scientists in Ireland have identified how some COVID-19 patients can develop life-threatening clots. The researchers said the findings could lead to therapies that prevent it from happening.

The work, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

Previous research has established that blood clotting is a significant cause of death in patients with COVID-19.

They found that the balance between a protein that causes clotting, called von Willebrand Factor (VWF), and its regulator, called ADAMTS13, is severely disrupted in patients with severe COVID-19. When compared to control groups, the blood of COVID-19 patients had higher levels of the pro-clotting VWF molecules and lower levels of the anti-clotting ADAMTS13.

The researchers also identified other changes in proteins that caused the reduction of ADAMTS13.

Dr Jamie O’Sullivan, the study’s author and research lecturer within the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI, said that the research helps provide insights into the mechanisms that cause severe blood clots in patients with COVID-19. It is critical to developing more effective treatments, she said.