A Novel Anti-Coagulant From The Saliva Of A Tick! 

Market Opportunity

Prevention is a crucial element of cardiovascular health.  As much as a healthy diet and exercise can reduce the risk of a cardiac incident, medications can also reduce the risk of developing life threatening blood clots.  The problem is that currently available anti-coagulants have limited application and many have serious adverse side effects. As such, there is a need for superior anti-coagulants for more effective treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The answer: Clot busting tick spit! 


The Technology

The NUS Department of Biological Sciences has identified a powerful and naturally occurring anti-coagulant from the salivary glands of the tropical bont tick. This blood-feasting tick uses its saliva to prevent blood clotting when it feeds on its prey. Researchers isolated and characterised several short peptides, called Avathrin and Ultravariegin. These peptides effectively block Thrombin, the protein involved in the coagulation of human blood.  NUS researchers then synthesised new variants of these peptides with improved affinity for thrombin and better properties for storage and reduced production cost. 

The NUS novel peptides show 10-100 times higher affinity for inhibiting Thrombin, compared to other similar peptides, with Ultravariegin binding more than 150 times tighter to thrombin. These peptides also demonstrate higher specificity, being 4-5 times more selective for Thrombin, compared to other anti-coagulation enzymes.


Applications and Advantages

It is a well established fact that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, resulting in more than 17 million deaths in 2013. Most cardiovascular diseases involve dangerous blood clots that block the flow of blood within vessels. While standard treatment typically include the use of anti-coagulant medication to reduce the risk of developing a blood clot, the current crop of treatments are not adequate.  Avathrin and Ultravariegin demonstrate great potential leading to improved therapies for treating cardiovascular diseases. Initially these peptides could result in the development of novel drugs with better clot inhibiting performance and fewer adverse effects. Additionally these peptides can also be developed into agents for use in blood collection bags, on the surface of medical devices such as stents or catheters, as well as various other medical tubings. 

NUS has applied for a patent for this technology and is seeking commercial development partners. 


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