Wayne State researcher developing new method to reduce complications of severe hemophilia in childrenOctober 6, 2008
Meera Chitlur, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics, Department of Hematology/Oncology in WSU's School of Medicine and resident of Northville, Mich., recently received a grant for $49,910 from the Children's Research Center of Michigan to further develop a laboratory method that could dramatically improve the management of children inflicted with hemophilia.
The method utilizes a thromboelastograph, a small instrument that provides a graphic representation of the formation and break down of blood clots using a small sample of blood. By determining the strength of a clot, the instrument could enable doctors to understand the severity of a patient's hemophilia before and after they receive treatment. This new information will help to better gauge the best treatment regimen for individual patients and prevent bleeding complications.
Hemophilia, which is a group of hereditary disorders that impair the body's ability to produce blood clots, is typically managed by intravenously administering a "clotting factor" - a protein that the patient lacks. To prevent bleeding, patients are generally given the clotting factor every 48 to 72 hours. Although varying severities of hemophilia require the factor to be given more or less frequently, these cases typically aren't discovered until bleeding complications occur.
Now, with the use of thromboelastography to gauge the correct treatment regimen ahead of time, some of the most devastating complications of hemophilia can be avoided. One of the severe complications is bleeding into joints, a condition that causes debilitating joint deterioration over time. "The whole purpose of putting someone on a preventative treatment regimen is to preserve their joints," Chitlur said. "What we're trying to do is prevent joint bleeds from happening, so that patients can live more productive lives."
Thromboelastography requires less than one milliliter of blood in order to produce an image, while standard clotting factor assays call for much more. "That's the biggest advantage," Chitlur said. "It's very important in children, and especially in newborns. If you want to test something frequently, drawing that much blood can itself become a problem. Additionally, while clotting factor assays take several hours to perform, thromboelastography can provide results in less than one hour."
Wayne State University is one of the nation's pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world.