Using nanoparticles as vectors to dissolve clots

Each nanoparticle is composed of an iron oxide core (red squares) that is swathed in albumin (grey) and the anti-clotting agent tPA (green). The iron oxide cubes are about 20 nm on a side. Credit: Paolo Decuzzi, Houston Methodist Research Institute

Just yesterday I pointed to a news on a kit to detect hemorrhagic viruses that used nanoparticles to both bind antibodies (capturing the virus) and provide the visual information that the test turned out positive by visualising a coloured band where the color is specific to a type of virus.

Today it is again using nanoparticles but now to rapidly dissolve clots.

Clots (aggregation of blood into a solid mass) can obstruct vessels leading to heart and brain strokes with fatal consequences. Doctors have medicines that can be injected in the arteries to dissolve the clots but only a fragment of the substance will stick to the clot and do its work, most of it just disperses in the vascular system. Increasing the dose doesn't work because the dissolving clot substance may provoke an haemorrhage in brain again with potential fatal consequences.

At the Houston Methodist Research Institute dr. Decuzzi's group has found a way to deliver in a very efficient way the medical substance to dissolve the clot. They have covered iron nanoparticle with albumin (a normal compound in our blood) and bound the dissolving substance to the nanoparticles creating effective projectiles to hit the clot.

The iron nanoparticle is subject to magnetic forces, hence it can be guided to the clot and it can be kept there to do its job.

So far the researchers have tested the method on a simulated mouse in a lab with amazing results: the clots can be dissolved 100 times faster than using normal perfusion method. This is because you can hit the blood clot with very high doses of medication with no risk of inducing global undesired effect.

Next step is to seek approval for clinical trials. Clearly nanotech is providing new tools in many areas. Be prepared for amazing changes ahead!

Author - Roberto Saracco

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