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Therapeutic Use of Heparin beyond Anticoagulation

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Heparin has been used as an anticoagulant for decades. Recently, attention has been drawn to the nonanticoagulant activities of heparin. Experimentally and clinically those non-anticoagulant properties of heparin inhibit inflammation and metastatic spread of tumor cells. On the molecular level, heparin inhibits the function, expression and/or synthesis of adhesion molecules, cytokines, angiogenic factors and complement. However, despite a similar anticoagulant activity, those non-anticoagulant effects of heparin differ greatly among the different heparin preparations. The same holds true for the most common adverse events of heparin treatment. The incidence of immune mediated heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and cutaneous hypersensitivity responses is greatly, but not exclusively, influenced by the heparin preparation used. As the structure-function relationship of the anti-inflammatory and anti-metastatic effects of heparins are understood in more detail, and as the risk profile of different heparin preparations regarding the induction of adverse events have been identified, we propose to use the different heparin preparations according to the individual needs of each patient.

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Keywords: Inflammation; adverse events; angiogenesis; chemokines; complement; glycosaminoglycans; heparin; lymphocyte homing; metastasis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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  • Due to the plethora of new approaches being used in modern drug discovery by the pharmaceutical industry, Current Drug Discovery Technologies has been established to provide comprehensive overviews of all the major modern techniques and technologies used in drug design and discovery. The journal is the forum for publishing both original research papers and reviews describing novel approaches and cutting edge technologies used in all stages of drug discovery. The journal addresses the multidimensional challenges of drug discovery science including integration issues of the drug discovery process.

    Current Drug Discovery Technologies is an essential journal for all scientists and research managers involved in drug discovery who wish to keep abreast of all the modern techniques and technologies used in drug discovery.
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