Drug-delivering nano 'drones' to help prevent heart attacks
Scientists have developed biodegradable nano 'drones' to deliver anti-inflammatory drugs that heal and stabilize arterial plaque. The work could pave the way for more effective prevention of heart attack and stroke in humans caused by atherosclerosis, in which artery walls thicken and suffer reduced plasticity due to an accumulation of white blood cells.
The study, conducted by researchers from Colombia University Medical Center (CUMC), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), showed for the first time that it is possible to treat inflammation and repair plaques via highly targeted nanoparticles. It is also the first example of using targeted nanomedicine to reduce atherosclerosis in animals.
Essentially, the nanoparticles are injected into the bloodstream where they find their way to the arterial plaque, stick to them and release the healing peptides. Their small size, they are 1,000 times smaller than the tip of a single strand of human hair, and "sticky" surfaces enable them to accumulate and be retained within the plaques to facilitate healing and remodeling to block plaque rupture and thrombosis.