Taipei: An anti-platelet drug based on snake venom that may prevent blood cells from forming blood clots may be much safer for treating heart disease, according to new research. When a person gets wounded, blood cells called platelets arrive on the scene and group together to form a clot that stops the bleeding.Anti-platelet drugs prevent these platelets from clumping together and forming blood clots and is widely used to treat heart disease. However, current anti-platelet drugs cause excessive bleeding after injury. The new drug — designed by researchers from the National Taiwan University — is based on a protein in the snake venom and prevents platelets from clotting when it was mixed with blood. When mice was administered the new drug, it showed slower blood clot formation compared to untreated mice. In addition, the treated mice did not bleed longer than untreated mice. The new drug, detailed in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, interacts with the protein glycoprotein VI (GPVI) that sits on the surface of platelets, the researchers said. Previous study revealed that trowaglerix — a protein in the venom of the Tropidolaemus waglerix snake — stimulated platelets to form blood clots by latching onto the GPVI. Platelets missing GPVI do not form blood clots in patients and do not lead to severe bleeding, suggesting that blocking GPVI could prevent blood clotting while avoiding the side effects of prolonged bleeding. Excessive bleeding after injury is a serious effect of current anti-platelet drugs, so the results support that this molecule design can be a template for a new, safer class of anti-platelet drugs with limited bleeding side effect, said lead author Tur-Fu Huang, from the National Taiwan University.