New treatment approaches to von Willebrand disease

Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2016 Dec 2;2016(1):683-689. doi: 10.1182/asheducation-2016.1.683.


von Willebrand disease (VWD) is the commonest inherited bleeding disorder and results from either a quantitative or qualitative deficiency in the plasma glycoprotein von Willebrand factor (VWF). Recent large cohort studies have significantly enhanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of VWD. In contrast, however, there have been relatively few advances in the therapeutic options available for the treatment of bleeding in patients with VWD. Established treatment options include tranexamic acid, 1-deamino-8-d-arginine vasopressin (DDAVP), and plasma-derived VWF concentrates. In addition, a recombinant VWF has also recently been developed. In this review, we focus on how recent insights into the clinical and molecular aspects underpinning VWD are already beginning to influence treatment in the clinic. For example, a number of different bleeding assessment tools (BATs) have been developed to objectively assess bleeding symptoms in patients with VWD. Interestingly, however, these BAT scores may also have an important role to play in predicting bleeding risk in VWD. Furthermore, recent studies have demonstrated that enhanced VWF clearance plays a critical role in the etiology of both type 1 and type 2 VWD. These findings have direct translational relevance with respect to the use of DDAVP in patients with VWD. As understanding of the mechanisms involved in VWD pathogenesis continues to advance, novel treatment options are likely to emerge. Critically, however, large adequately powered and stratified clinical trials will be required to address the outstanding questions that remain regarding VWD treatment optimization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin / therapeutic use*
  • Hemorrhage / blood
  • Hemorrhage / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Tranexamic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • von Willebrand Diseases / blood
  • von Willebrand Diseases / drug therapy*
  • von Willebrand Factor / therapeutic use*


  • von Willebrand Factor
  • Tranexamic Acid
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin