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Reducing the risk of blood thinners in heart disease

The University of Sydney

  • RNA Future Leaders Program
Date Funded:
  • 3 August, 2021
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Shelley Wickham

Project Summary

Development of a new diagnostic device with RNA technology that will reduce risks of blood clotting and bleeding complications.

The main researcher for this project is Dr Shelley Wickham.

What is the issue for NSW?

Blood clots can cause heart attacks, strokes and medical device failure. Patients are given blood thinning drugs to stop blood clots. However, these drugs can cause additional complications such as severe bleeding which can be fatal.

Right now, methods used in hospitals to determine if a patient is getting the right amount of blood thinners are not accurate or fast enough. Too low and clots can occur, too high and bleeding can happen. This is particularly important for people with heart disease or those who are on life support like heart-lung machines.

There is an urgent clinical need for new diagnostic tests that can help doctors monitor how well blood thinning drugs are working in the body. This will help patients receive the correct dose, reducing side effects and improving patient treatment as well as reducing healthcare costs.

What does the research aim to do and how?

Dr Shelley Wickham’s team are developing new ways to measure blood clotting using RNA.

RNA can detect the proteins that cause clots, even in tiny amounts of blood. The team is designing and prototyping new devices using RNA to measure clotting proteins in blood. They will then detect changes after blood thinning drugs are given. This will measure how effective the drugs are, which is different for every person and will ensure the dose is correct.

Dr Wickham’s team will use state-of-the-art tools that they have built to test the RNA devices in circuits that mimic blood flow.