Photo Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT
Blood clots in the legs are commonly called the Economy Class Syndrome, whereas passengers in the coach class develop potentially life-threatening blood clots in their legs when they sit around not moving for a long time. The other group of people at risk are patients who just have surgery in the pelvis or legs, and cannot walk around.
Sometimes those blood clots break and travel to the lungs and block the big lung arteries, killing the patient.
Blood clots are rich with thrombin. So iron oxide particles coated with special peptides are injected into mice. Should the particles encounter thrombin, the special peptides react with thrombin, releasing substances that can be detected in the urine. Iron oxide particles have already been approved for human use by the FDA.
At the moment, doctors have to look for late signs of blood clots in the leg which includes a swollen feet, and breathing difficulties (late stage). It is then confirmed by an ultrasound of the leg veins which is labor-intensive. This technology has the potential to greatly help us pick up the blood clots before they arise.