Researchers have claimed that using a new class of agents to design drugs and their antidotes together could create safer medicines and save lives.
The effects of the new drugs, or aptamers, can instantly be reversed with this approach if something goes wrong. Aptamers can be produced alongside antidotes designed to stop them from working, researchers have shown.
Successful trials of one drug/antidote package on patients being treated for blood clots showed that the antidote ensured the blood-thinning aptamer did not result in excessive bleeding.
Professor Bruce Sullenger, from Duke University Medical Centre in New Carolina, US, said: “With any anticoagulant, you are trying to reduce your chances of having clotting because it can lead to a heart attack or stroke during treatment.”
“Yet bleeding is a common side effect during and after treatments that require anticoagulation therapy such as surgery or angioplasty (widening blocked arteries).”
A laboratory research report based on eight aptamer drugs with effect-reversing antidotes was published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Scientists from Duke also conducted the unpublished blood-thinning drug tests.
Professor Sullenger said the technology provided an “opportunity to make safer drugs.”
Aptamers are oligonucleotides, or short expanses of nucleic acid that stick to a target molecule.
They are not considered foreign agents by the body, unlike antibody-based drugs which work similarly, triggering an immune response.
Copyright Press Association 2009