Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that develops when a blood clot becomes lodged in a “deep” vein in your body — typically in the pelvis, legs, or thighs. Currently approved treatments for DVT focus on “thinning” your blood by slowing your body’s blood clotting process. Anticoagulants are medications that prevent the production and function of specialized proteins known as clotting factors. Surgeries can also be done to remove blood clots and place filters to prevent clots from moving into your lungs.1
As doctors and researchers learn more about DVT, they continue to develop new medications and investigate approved treatments to improve upon them. They’re also looking into new surgical methods to prevent blood clots.
Before these therapies can be released to the general public, they must first undergo clinical trials. These studies use volunteers with DVT to determine whether the therapies are safe and effective. By choosing to participate in a clinical trial, you’re helping to advance research, and you may even experience benefits from these experimental treatments.
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New DVT Treatments
Doctors and researchers continue to look for new ways to treat DVT. These include new medications and medical devices to prevent or remove blood clots.
One example is the development of new anticoagulants to block the function of clotting factors. Currently available anticoagulants are all small-molecule drugs that are chemically synthesized in a lab to target clotting factors, such as factor Xa.2
However, a new drug, abelacimab, is an engineered antibody that binds to clotting factors XI and XIa. A previous clinical trial found that abelacimab prevented blood clots in veins (known as venous thromboembolisms or VTEs) more than the standard of care drug enoxaparin in people undergoing knee replacement surgery. They were also shown to be safe in people with kidney or liver problems.3 Other clinical trials are now studying how abelacimab works in preventing VTE and DVT associated with certain types of cancer. These studies are comparing the antibody drug to other approved anticoagulants.4,5
Doctors and researchers hope that new antibody medications can be used as blood thinners in people who may be at an increased risk of bleeding from other anticoagulants. For example, direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) should be used with caution in people with liver problems due to increased bleeding risk — on the other hand, abelacimab was shown to be safe in this group.
Medical Devices for Thrombectomy
In cases where blood clots are life-threatening, a surgical procedure known as a thrombectomy can be performed. Your doctor may recommend a thrombectomy if you have DVT that can’t be treated with anticoagulants or clot-busting drugs known as thrombolytics. This can be done as open surgery or as a minimally invasive procedure known as a percutaneous thrombectomy.6
Current percutaneous thrombectomy surgeries involve using specialized devices inserted through a long, thin, flexible tube known as a catheter. Doctors and researchers continue to develop new tools to make surgeries safer and more effective in treating DVT. For new medical devices to be used in surgeries, they must first undergo clinical trials. Recent studies are investigating new devices for thrombectomies to suction out clots or capture them in a wire mesh for removal.7,8
Stents are metal tubes that use expandable mesh to open up narrowed blood vessels. Most people think of coronary stents, which are used to open the heart’s arteries to promote blood flow. However, stents can also be used to open narrowed veins in the body to help treat DVT. This is most common in the iliac vein, which carries blood from your legs back up to your heart.9
Clinical trials continue to investigate new stent systems that can be placed in the veins in the legs to help prevent blood clots and DVT. Doctors and researchers also hope these systems can help alleviate DVT symptoms such as pain and swelling.9-11
Previously Approved Medications
Find Clinical Trials Near Me
Interested in clinical trials? Simply search by postal code and type of condition to see what’s going on in your area.
Sometimes, previously approved medications will be studied for their use in treating other health conditions. In these cases, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that new clinical trials are performed to ensure the drug is safe and effective in a different setting.
Doctors and researchers are using these medications to address the consequences of DVT. One example is the treatment of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), which occurs in nearly 75 percent of DVT patients. PTS can lead to damage and scarring (fibrosis) of the vein walls. Studies show that certain medications may be used to prevent this complication. One study is investigating the cholesterol-lowering drug rosuvastatin (Crestor®) for preventing PTS and scarring.12
Joining a DVT Clinical Trial
If you’ve previously had DVT, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial. To join a DVT clinical trial, you may have to fall within a certain age range, have certain blood marker levels, or not have any major kidney or liver problems. However, each study’s inclusion criteria will be different.
To find trials you may qualify for, you can submit a request on TrialSearch to be matched with potential clinical studies that are currently recruiting for participants. Choosing to take part in a clinical trial is a major decision. Whatever your choice, it should be what’s best for you and your health.