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Isolation and characterization of raw heparin from dromedary intestine: evaluation of a new source of pharmaceutical heparin.

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  • 1Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Biochemistry, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt.


Heparin, a heterogeneous anionic polysaccharide, is the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) used clinically an anticoagulant. This anticoagulant activity is primarily derived from its binding to the serine protease inhibitor antithrombin III, a potent inhibitor of thrombin (factor IIa) and factor Xa. Heparin is a complex natural product and its in vitro synthesis is not yet possible due to the difficulty of organizing the many biosynthetic enzymes required for its synthesis. The principle natural sources for heparin include porcine intestine and bovine lung. These two sources pose concerns for religious and health reasons, respectively. To circumvent these concerns, GAG from the intestinal tissue of one humped camel was isolated. Chemical characterization of this newly isolated GAG and spectroscopic analysis by 1D and 2D 1H-NMR were undertaken. Unsaturated disaccharide compositional analysis was performed on the enzymatically depolymerized GAG and the molecular weight of the isolated GAG was determined by gradient polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Anticoagulant activity of the newly isolated GAG was tested by using an anti-factor Xa assay. The results of these studies suggest that the GAG from one humped camel intestine is a mixture of heparin and heparan sulfate and represents an alternative source of heparin.

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