SARS-CoV-2 Effect on Blood-Thinning Molecules Causes Clots

(Reuters) – Dangerous blood clots often seen in patients with COVID-19 happen at least in part because the spike on the virus attaches itself to molecules in the blood that play key roles in preventing clotting, thereby inactivating them, new research shows.

With the virus bound to them, “these molecules (heparan sulfate/heparin) can’t do their usual anticoagulant activities,” explained Jingyu Yan of the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China.

Blood clots associated with COVID-19 often damage the lungs and other organs and can cause heart attacks and strokes. The excessive clotting has been attributed to the high levels of inflammation caused by the SARS-CoV-2 infection. It has not been clear until now that the virus itself also has a direct effect, Yan’s team reported in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules.

Fortunately, they point out, the now common practice of giving COVID-19 patients blood-thinning drugs can “significantly reduce” the clotting caused by the virus.

SOURCE: International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, online October 29, 2021.

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