Non-invasive method fights heart disease

1 min read

Researchers in South Carolina have developed nanoparticles that deliver drugs directly to damaged arteries.

One of the standard ways to treat clogged and damaged arteries is to implant vascular stents, which hold the vessels open and release such drugs as paclitaxel. The researchers, led by Clemson University bioengineering Prof Naren Vyavahare, hope their advanced nanoparticles could be used alongside stents or in lieu of them.

‘Healthy arteries have elastic fibres that provide elasticity. They are like rubber bands in the tissue that allow expansion and recoil during blood flow,’ Vyavahare said in a statement. ‘In most cardiovascular diseases, elastic fibres in arteries get damaged, creating hooks that can be used to target drugs.’

The nanoparticles, coated with a sticky protein, latch onto damaged arteries and can reportedly deliver a drug to the site via slow release.

These nanoparticles can be engineered to deliver an array of drugs to the damaged or clogged artery, a common example being paclitaxel, which inhibits cell division and helps prevent growth of scar tissue that can clog arteries.

These particles also have unique surfaces that allow prolonged circulation time, providing more opportunities for these particles to accumulate at the damage site.

‘We developed nanoparticles that have antibodies on the surface that attach to diseased sites like Velcro,’ said Vyavahare. ‘Interestingly, these newly created nanoparticles only accumulate at the damaged artery, not in the healthy arteries, enabling site-specific drug delivery.’

‘These nanoparticles can be delivered intravenously to target injured areas and can administer drugs over longer periods of time, thus avoiding repeated surgical interventions at the disease site,’ said Aditi Sinha, a Clemson graduate student and lead author on a paper soon to be published in journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnolgy, Biology and Medicine.

The research team is currently testing the nanoparticles to determine the most effective drug dosage for vascular tissue repair and it is claimed to have applications in other diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Marfan syndrome and elastic fibre-related disorders, such as aortic aneurysms.