Science

Cardiff researchers show how asprin works

by Pakinee Pooprasert

Cardiff University scientists discovered an important breakthrough helping us understand more about how different individuals respond to aspirin.

Aspirin, a widely prescribed drug, is not only significant for treating cardiovascular pathologies, but is also gaining a foot hold on cancer treatment and prevention.

By understanding how people respond to aspirin, health care professionals can know more about who will benefit from it.

The research, led by Professor Valerie O’Donnell, from the University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute showed that for the first time, there is a direct link between energy generation and changes in the levels of fats in specialised blood cells (platelets), which are important for blood clotting.

Professor O’Donnell describes how “our research shows a new link between energy metabolism and inflammation as well as giving early insights into the fundamentals of precision medicine regarding the variation of the lipidome among individuals.”

Furthermore, the research involved professors from across the globe, from Professor Victor Darley-Usmar, Director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Mitochondrial Medicine Laboratory, and Professor Robert Murphy in the Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado, Denver, USA. Together, the team found more than 5,600 lipids in platelets and worked out the donor variation with aspirin treatment of a subset that are generated when the cells are inflammatory activated.

The research was published in the journal, Cell Metabolism, and is the first comprehensive lipidomic profile of human platelets in response to stimulation and aspirin treatment.

Commenting on the significance of this discovery, Professor Mike Murphy, of the Medical Research Council Mitochondrial Biology Unit, Cambridge, said that “This work led by Professor O’Donnell is a technical tour de force, providing a wonderful resource for other biomedical researchers. A particularly important aspect is the focus on platelets, which are readily available from patients’ blood in diagnosis, prognosis or as a biomarker in assessing therapies.”

While the research is still in its preliminary stages, it promises a whole avenue of how we approach, prescribe, and consume the universally common drug that is aspirin.

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