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Vaccine blood clot mystery solved?

An international team of scientists believe they may have found a molecular mechanism behind the rare blood clots linked to adenovirus COVID-19 vaccines.

Scientists led by a team from Arizona State University, Cardiff University and others worked with AstraZeneca to investigate vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), also known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), a life-threatening condition seen in a very small number of people after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“The mechanism which results in this condition, termed vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), was unknown,” said Abhishek Singharoy, an Arizona State University scientist and corresponding author of the study.

The team used state-of-the-art cryo-EM technology to analyse the AstraZeneca vaccine and understand whether the ultra-rare side effect could be linked to the viral vector, which is used in many vaccines.

Their findings suggest it is the viral vector – in this case, an adenovirus used to shuttle the coronavirus’ genetic material into cells – and the way it binds to platelet factor 4 (PF4) once injected that could be the potential mechanism.

Image credit | Chun Kit Chan-Arizona

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