Preventing Blood Clots in MPNs

  • MPNRF | May 25, 2023

    Advancing Research: Preventing Blood Clots in MPNs

    Dr. Joan Beckman
    Dr. Joan Beckman

    Blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes are leading causes of death or disability in patients with MPNs, typically as a result of elevated platelets and/or red blood cells. Dr. Joan Beckman’s lab at the University of Minnesota is currently working to determine whether growth-arrest-specific 6 protein (Gas6) contributes to blood clots in these individuals. The work is funded by a 2022 MPNRF Thrive award.  

    The Gas6 pathway is known to promote blood clot formation. However, it is not known if this pathway contributes to blood clots in MPNs. 

    “My lab works to find ways to stop blood clots and prevent (associated) damage,” according to Dr. Beckman.  

    In fact, her lab has developed several clotting models that allow the researchers to focus on the interaction between blood vessels and blood cells. “Using these models, we are working to determine whether blocking the Gas6 pathway decreases blood clots in MPN,” she explains. “Our goal is to discover new treatment options that will prevent blood clotting or decrease the risk of clotting complications in patients with MPNs.” 

    During her fellowship and post-doctoral training, Dr. Beckman grew an appreciation for the limited treatment options available for many rare blood disorders, this after doing her graduate work in sickle cell disease. “I was exposed to several patients with MPN who had thrombotic outcomes,” she says. “This inspired me to combine my skills in assessing endothelial activation to MPN.”   

    This project, The Role of Gas6-Axl-MERTK in MPNs, is important because:

    • • Strong research projects on MPN-induced thrombosis are rare.
    • • It uses unique preclinical models and MPN mice to test her hypothesis regarding the connection of Gas6 to thrombosis in MPNs.
    • • It has near-term implications as there is the potential for rapid translation of results into a clinical trial with an established late-stage investigational agent called bemcentinib.