This chapter will focus on anticoagulant molecules described until now from hematophagous animals. The evolutionary scenario for hematophagous animals is convergent and has resulted on a wide diversity of saliva anticoagulants, substances with platelet anti-aggregation action, and also with vase-dilating action. Hematophagous animals such as bloodsuckers (leeches, mosquitoes, and ticks) have developed strategies that specifically target proteinases from the hemostatic system of the animals they feed, thus keeping the blood incoagulable. The saliva of those animals provides a large amount of molecules to modulate the innate immune response of the host and to inhibit blood coagulation in order to facilitate the feeding. Thus, anticoagulants from hematophagous animals represent a very interesting tool for studies ranging from basic research to applications in the therapeutic area, as anticoagulant medication. Several studies have pointed out that anticoagulants from hematophagous can also display non-hemostatic functions as anti-tumor, bringing new perspectives for the study of these molecules. The comprehension of the multi-faced physiological roles of those new anticoagulants from hematophagous opens new perspectives for therapeutic and biotechnological approaches.
Part of the book: Anticoagulant Drugs