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Blood. 2009 May 21;113(21):5049-57. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-10-165621. Epub 2009 Mar 24.

von Willebrand factor to the rescue.

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Interdisciplinary Research Center, Katholieke Universiteit, Kortrijk, Belgium.


von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a large multimeric adhesive glycoprotein with complex roles in thrombosis and hemostasis. Abnormalities in VWF give rise to a variety of bleeding complications, known as von Willebrand disease (VWD), the most common inherited bleeding disorder in humans. Current treatment of VWD is based on the replacement of the deficient or dysfunctional protein either by endogenous release from endothelial Weibel-Palade bodies or by administration of plasma-derived VWF concentrates. During the last years, several efforts have been made to optimize existing therapies for VWD, but also to devise new approaches, such as inducing endogenous expression with interleukin-11, administering exogenous recombinant VWF, or introducing the protein via gene delivery. Clearly, the efficacy of any strategy will depend on several factors, including, for example, the quantity, activity, and stability of the delivered VWF. The inherent complexity of VWF biosynthesis, which involves extensive posttranslational processing, may be limiting in terms of producing active VWF outside of its native cellular sources. This review summarizes recent progress in the development of different treatment strategies for VWD, including those that are established and those that are at the experimental stage. Potential pitfalls and benefits of each strategy are discussed.

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