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Clot-busting enzymes dump dead cells too

Australia,Health/Medicine,Science/Tech, Fri, 05 Oct 2012 IANS

Sydney, Oct 5 (IANS) Clot-busting enzymes perform double job - removal of blood clots and disposing of cells that die prematurely from disease or trauma, says a study.

Scientists from Monash University have demonstrated for the first time how the enzyme t-PA, plays a vital role in these two functions.

Necrosis occurs when cells in living tissue die prematurely due to external stress or injury. The body's system for removing waste linked with necrotic cell removal was not, until now, well understood, the journal Cell reported.

Professor Robert Medcalf and Andre Samson, from Monash's Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD), led the research with Stephen Bottomley, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, at Monash.

They found that in the late stages of death, the injured cell undergoes a restructure and takes on a form not unlike a blood clot, to prepare for efficient removal from the body. This process had never been described before, according to a Monash statement.

Medcalf said the blood clot-like structure allowed the damaged cells to be recognised and removed by t-PA and its enzymatic waste disposal team.

"It's exactly the same principle as the formation and removal of a blood clot," he said.

The researchers were studying brain tissue when they made the discovery, but have shown that the same process applies to every cell in the body.

"It's very efficient. Instead of doubling up, the body is using the same disposal system to eliminate a variety of unwanted waste products, be they dead cells or blood clots that have served their purpose," Medcalf said.

"What this means is that t-PA and its team of enzymes recognises waste through structure or shape, not by the specific proteins involved," concluded Medcalf.

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