Fractionation and Fragmentation of Heparin

Attempts have been made to individually examine the heterogeneous structural features of heparin in order to characterize functionally active domains required for anticoagulant action. To accomplish this objective, fractionation of the components of the natural parent heparin material has been performed based on molecular weight, charge density, solubility characteristics and affinity (usually to AT). Subsequently, chemical procedures to depolymerize the larger molecular weight heparin components into lower molecular weight material were used to generate heparin fragments.

The development of fractions (naturally depolymerized forms) and fragments (chemically or enzymatically depolymerized forms) of heparin added a new dimension in the prophylactic and therapeutic use of heparin. With these more defined materials, efforts were aimed at finding a safer antithrombotic agent that would effectively prevent venous thrombosis, yet would have a lower bleeding risk and a decreased incidence of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT).

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