There could be improved treatments for heart disease, strokes and vascular dementia after scientists discovered new ways in which the body regulates blood clots. The scientists have developed a new technique that allows them to simultaneously measure blood clotting and the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules containing unpaired single electrons seeking to pair up. This makes these molecules highly reactive and able to modify protein, lipids and DNA. Amongst other unwanted effects, free radicals play a role in the build-up of blood clots, which in turn are considered a key driver in the development of a range of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, dementia and inflammation-related conditions such as arthritis. The research, which has been led by the University of Exeter and funded by the British Heart Foundation, uses a technique that combines electron paramagnetic resonance with blood cell aggregometry. The team has successfully used the technique in mice and in human cells. The researchers aim to better understand how blood cells function, which will help to develop new drugs against blood clotting diseases or to test the risk of clotting diseases in patients. Dr Giordano Pula, who led the study, said: “We’re really excited to discover this new technique and its potential to understand how blood vessel diseases develop. “For the first time, we can now simultaneously measure blood clotting and the formation of free radicals. “We know they play a key role in blood vessel damage caused by ageing, diabetes, obesity and chronic inflammation. “We’re currently using this technique in our efforts to develop a new treatment to protect the blood vessels in diseases such as heart disease, stroke, obesity and vascular dementia.” Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “With BHF funding, Dr Pula has developed an improved method to investigate part of the blood clotting process which focuses on the ways in which platelets from blood samples clump together. “This method may be useful for future studies looking into new anti-platelet treatments for diseases, such as diabetes, where clotting is disturbed and increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.” The study is published in the scientific journal Haematologica. Published in Daily Times, February 16th 2019.