Pioneering blood clot research at Morriston Hospital showing early signs of success
CUTTING-EDGE research at Morriston Hospital that could save countless lives is showing early signs of success.
The blood clot research unit in the hospital's A&E department now has 340 patients recruited for studies involving illnesses including sepsis, stroke, heart disease and cancer.
It is also looking at thromboprophylaxis, which is the practice of giving small doses of anticoagulant drugs to people at risk of deep vein thrombosis.
The unit is led by emergency medicine consultant Adrian Evans. It was formed following a £1.5 million award from the National Institute of Social Care and Health Research to develop research into early detection and treatment of abnormal clotting.
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Professor Evans and his team have completed a warfarin study, which shows how some types of patients may still be at risk of developing a dangerous blood clot even though they are being treated with the drug.
Patients who do not respond to it can be identified using a combination of standard and new biomarkers. The results of this study are due to be published soon.
The team hopes the findings will lead to a much bigger study into drug resistance and failure, exploring which patients are unlikely to respond to their anticoagulant treatment before it is started.
Professor Evans said: "This may help us identify which patients are likely to have recurrence despite being on anti coagulant therapy.
"We hope that if this is the case — and this will require a much bigger study supported by this evidence — then we will be able to look at different treatment options to protect these patients."
The unit, a collaboration between Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Swansea University and industry, now has 10 highly qualified members of staff working alongside Professor Evans.
He added: "We have a long way to go but we are making inroads into our understanding of why certain illnesses form early and abnormal blood clots which can break off and lodge in other organs causing complications and even death.
"We are particularly focusing on those diseases where clot developments are known to occur, such as acute cardio-respiratory disease, stroke, trauma and cancer.
"It is early days yet but the research so far looks promising and more work needs to be done."
Meanwhile, the team's work has been recognised in a new Government report, with a foreword by Prime Minister David Cameron. The report, Strategy For UK Life Sciences, One Year On, has been published 12 months after the Government's 10-year strategy for life sciences was launched.
It gives examples of research across the UK, including Morriston, stating: "The Haemostasis Biomedical Research Unit in Swansea is investigating a new biomarker which has the potential to give the clinician an improved method of determining blood coagulation.
"Early studies have been promising and could help to identify which patients are likely to respond to anti coagulant therapy."