(Digital Journal) – Nanomedicine represents one of the most promising areas of medical technology. In a new application, researchers have used nanoparticles to address the effects of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a condition where an artery-wall thickens as a result of invasion and accumulation of white blood cells and proliferation of intimal-smooth-muscle cell creating a fibrofatty plaque. The condition can lead to a heart attack, as a result of a blood clot which blocks the blood supply to the heart.
To help deal with the disease, researchers have developed special nanoparticles. These particles are designed so that, when they make contact with an atherosclerotic plaque — a fatty clog narrowing a blood vessel, they adhere to the plaque. Once adhered, the nanoparticles proceed to break down the structure. This allows red blood cells to circulate uninhibited, improving the overall flow of blood through the artery.
The newly developed nanoparticles a very small (at just 100 nanometers diameter.) The particles are coated with molecules designed to fix (or ‘tag’) plaque. The molecules can also include dyes, which allow medical technologists to track the movements of the particles. The biding happens in different ways; one such way, according to Science News, is by mimicking natural cholesterol molecules.
The nanoparticles also contain chemicals designed to attack the plaque and break it down. In trials in mice and pigs, the nanoparticles have proved successful.
One area of that needs more fine tuning is ensuring nanoparticles affix to the right materials and with tracking their progress and location in the body. According to Dr. Melina Kibbe of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, this is not straightforward.
In a research note she states: “It took us over a year of trying to find the right targeting [molecule] that would work.”
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