Abelacimab may be a game-changing treatment for blood clots

HAMILTON, Ontario — Blood clots have become an often-discussed health concern recently due to reports that some patients receiving the COVID-19 vaccination are experiencing clotting issues. Now, however, researchers from McMaster University have discovered a new treatment that may revolutionize blood clot prevention. The team reports that a single dose of abelacimab is capable of preventing blood clots for up to a full month following surgery.

That’s a risk reduction of roughly 80 percent in comparison to enoxaparin, a common blood clot medication. Study authors add abelacimab can do this all without increasing the risk of bleeding.

“Patients who undergo knee replacement routinely receive anti-clotting treatment with enoxaparin or other anticoagulant medications that require daily administration,” explains hematologist Jeffrey Weitz, professor of medicine and of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and executive director of the Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute, in a university release. “With a single injection of abelacimab after surgery, we found much better protection against clots in the veins in the leg compared with enoxaparin, one of the current standards of care.”

Patients analyzed for this research were subject to strict observation, looking out for any and all signs or symptoms connected to blood clot formation. Each person also underwent an X-ray of the veins focusing on the operated leg in question.

Beyond just blood clots, study authors say abelacimab has the potential to help treat other cardiovascular issues.

“This success of abelacimab in this study provides the foundation for its use for prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation and for treatment of deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, clots in the veins of the leg and clots in the lung, in patients with cancer,” Prof. Weitz says.

So, what exactly is abelacimab?

It is actually an antibody with the ability to bind to both the inactive and activated forms of factor XI (a clotting factor), stopping the factor from activating. In simpler terms, it stops blood clot formation before the process has a chance to really start.

This research is also notable because it confirms that factor XI is indeed a key aspect of blood clot formation following a surgery, Prof Weitz says. This is supported by the fact that abelacimab was more effective than enoxaparin.

“We expect factor XI to be a safer target for new anticoagulants than the targets of currently available anticoagulants because patients with congenital factor XI deficiency are at reduced risk for clots but rarely have spontaneous bleeding,” he concludes.

The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.