Artificial clotter helping hemophiliacs

December 27, 1990|By Assocaited Press

Genetically engineered clotting proteins work as well as the natural kind and can eliminate hemophiliacs' fears of AIDS and other blood-borne infections, researchers report.

A two-year study of 107 men with hemophilia found no detectable difference between the clotting factor produced by genetically engineered bacteria and that extracted from blood plasma, an international research group reported yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hemophiliacs need injections of clotting proteins -- formally called factor VIII -- because a genetic defect prevents them from making their own. Most now lead near-normal lives by injecting factor VIII to stop episodes of excessive, continued bleeding.

But factor VIII supplies extracted from blood plasma were contaminated with the AIDS virus in the early 1980s, before tests to detect the virus were available. About 60 percent of the 20,000 U.S. hemophiliacs are infected with the AIDS virus. Infection with the hepatitis virus is another potential problem for conventional factor VIII.

Screening tests and new purification processes have virtually eliminated the AIDS virus from the factor VIII supply. The genetically engineered version would remove any fears of viral infection.

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