BACKGROUND: Plasma kallikrein plays a major role in the contact (kallikrein-kinin) cascade producing bradykinin. Bradykinin is a vasodilator, which increases vascular permeability, activates inflammation and produces pain. Plasma kallikrein is also crosslinked to the coagulation system and the complement cascade. OBJECTIVE: Ecallantide (DX-88) is a potent and specific inhibitor of plasma kallikrein. Ecallantide is a recombinantly produced and engineered small protein based on the first Kunitz domain of human tissue factor pathway inhibitor. It was identified through phage display technology. METHODS: The search terms ‘ecallantide’, ‘DX-88’ and ‘hereditary angioedema’ were entered into Pubmed/Medline, ClinicalTrials and Google. RESULTS/CONCLUSION: At present, the drug is being studied for two major indications. First, the results for the treatment of hereditary angioedema are promising. Second, a prospective randomised multi-centre trial for the reduction of blood loss during on-pump cardiothoracic surgery will be terminated in October 2008.
Available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1517/147125184.108.40.2067 (small fee)