Common virus linked to severe blood clotting disorder

A life-threatening blood clotting disorder may be caused by the common infection adenovirus, according to researchers at Chapel Hill, N.C.-based UNC School of Medicine.

Stephan Moll, MD, and Jacquelyn Baskin-Miller, MD, led the study published Aug. 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The two joined forces with another researcher, Theodore Warkentin, MD, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. 

Dr. Warkentin had been leading research along these lines for a number of years, and Dr. Moll reached out to see if he was aware of any link between the virus and changes in blood, according to an Aug. 10 news release. At the time he was not, but proceeded to further test the blood of two different patients who developed the disorder following an adenovirus infection.

Further testing was able to determine a connection between the two, but questions still remain about why the virus doesn't seem to cause the disorder in every case of infection. 

Dr. Moll said in the release that further investigation could answer the questions: "How common is the disorder? What degree of thrombocytopenia raises the threshold to test for anti-PF4 antibodies? And then finally, how do we best treat these patients to optimize the chance that they will survive such a potentially deadly disease?"

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