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Blood Clot Fiber Study May Aid Treatment

August 3, 2006

Martin GutholdMartin Guthold

Blood clot research at Wake Forest University gives insight into heart attacks, strokes, wound healing

The tiny fibers that comprise blood clots show extraordinary elasticity, on average stretching to almost three times their length while still retaining their ability to go back to their normal shape and expanding to more than four times their length before breaking, according to findings published in the journal Science this week by researchers at Wake Forest University.

This discovery, which makes these fibrin fibers the most stretchable known fibers existing in nature, will help medical researchers create more accurate blood clot models, provide new insights into the wound healing process and offer a deeper understanding of heart attacks and strokes. Researchers from Wake Forest's physics department and Wake Forest University School of Medicine worked closely with researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on this project.

"For all naturally occurring fibers, fibrin fibers are the ones you can stretch the furthest before they break," said Martin Guthold, assistant professor of physics and one of the lead authors of the paper that appears in Science. "This was a stunning revelation because people hypothesized that these fibers stretched but broke much easier. In some cases, fibrin fibers had the ability to be stretched more than six times their length before they broke."

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