A little-known substance called tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) has been used to dissolve blood clots in various vessels of at least 15 patients in Europe and the United States.
Plasminogen activators are enzymes that trigger a series of events leading to the breakup of blood clots—particularly important in the coronary arteries. The two best-known exogenous plasminogen activators are streptokinase and urokinase (JAMA [MEDICAL NEWS] 1982;248:805-811).
Now these two have been joined by t-PA. The latter's clinical use in an initial seven patients was revealed at a Houston symposium on Interventional Modifications in Coronary Artery Disease, sponsored by the Texas Heart Institute, by Désiré Collen, MD, PhD, of the University of Leuven, Belgium. All vessels treated were still patent, he said. There are now informal reports that recanalization has also been achieved in at least eight other patients.
Collen spoke of clinical work involving the seven patients, without elaborating further, during