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Loyola to host major international symposium to mark 100th anniversary of discovery of heparin

By Stasia Thompson

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of one of medicine’s most essential drugs – the blood thinner heparin.

To mark the occasion, Loyola University Chicago is hosting the Heparin Centennial Symposium on Friday, October 28. Many of the world’s leading heparin experts will report the latest advances in the research and clinical applications involving heparin and related drugs.

The symposium will be held at the new Center for Translational Research and Education on Loyola’s Health Sciences Division campus in Maywood, Illinois.

Heparin is an anticoagulant and one of the world’s most commonly used drugs. It’s used to prevent or treat blood clots in veins, arteries and lungs and before surgery to reduce the risk of clots. Heparin is injected or administered intravenously. Heparin also is used in devices that come in contact with blood, such as kidney dialysis machines and test tubes. The World Health Organization has named heparin to its List of Essential Medications.

Heparin was discovered in 1916 by Jay Mclean, a medical student at Johns Hopkins University. Much of what is known today about bleeding and clotting disorders is based on observations and scientific research on heparin and related drugs.

“The surgical, interventional, and medical uses of heparin have revolutionized medicine,” said Jawed Fareed, PhD, a professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Department of Pathology and director of the Hemostasis and Thrombosis Research Program at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Dr. Fareed said the symposium will cover developments in heparin drug substances, the development of heparin-related drugs, and the chemistry and biology of these drugs. The symposium is open to basic scientists, clinicians, allied health professionals and regulatory groups.

On Saturday, October 29, Loyola will also host an international workshop on research into the potential of obtaining heparin from cattle and sheep. As demand for heparin continues to grow, experts worry of possible shortages. Heparin now is primarily derived from pigs, and to reduce the risk of shortages, cattle and sheep have been proposed as alternative sources for heparin and related drugs.

The symposium and workshop are hosted by Loyola’s departments of Pathology and Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, under the auspices of the International Union of Angiology and the North American Thrombosis Forum.

For more information on the symposium and workshop please contact Erin Erickson at ehealyerickson@luc.edu.