Translational medicine advances in von Willebrand disease

Authors

  • D. Lillicrap

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Richardson Laboratory, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada
    • Correspondence: David Lillicrap, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Richardson Laboratory, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada.

      Tel.: +1 613 548 1304; fax: +1 613 548 1356.

      E-mail: dpl@queensu.ca

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Summary

Following the recognition of von Willebrand disease (VWD) in 1926 and the cloning of the gene for von Willebrand factor (VWF) in 1985, significant advances have been made in our fundamental knowledge of both the disease and the protein. Some of this new knowledge has also begun to impact the clinical management of VWD. First, the progressive increase in our understanding of the molecular genetic basis of VWD has resulted in rational applications of molecular testing to complement the current range of phenotypic tests for VWD. These molecular genetic strategies are most effectively directed at the prenatal diagnosis of type 3 VWD and confirmatory testing for types 2B and 2N disease. In contrast, the use of molecular testing to clarify the diagnosis of type 1 VWD is of marginal benefit, at best. In terms of VWD therapies, a new recombinant VWF concentrate has recently completed successful clinical trials and is now awaiting more widespread application. There have even been some preclinical successes with VWF gene transfer although the clinical rationale for this therapeutic strategy needs careful consideration. Much more remains to be learnt about the biology of VWF and further translational advances for the enhancement of VWD care will inevitably be realized.

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