Harvard docs use nanoparticles to get drugs to clotted arteries

Scientists at Harvard University have found a novel method of getting clot-breaking drugs to hardened arteries, using nanoparticles that break open only when they reach clogged vessels.

Anti-coagulant treatments are effective in clearing arteries, but standard dosages carry the risk of bleeding and other side effects. In a study published in Science, the researchers explain that their drug-loaded nanoparticles were able to reduce clotting in mice while using just one-fiftieth the amount of the treatment in standard therapies.

The trick: The nanoparticles are formulated to target blockages and only deliver their drug payload when presented with the shear stress found in obstructed arteries, allowing them to deposit the treatment right where its needed and reduce the leakage that can lead to adverse side effects. The method is years away from human trials, the scientists said, but it could very well be commercialized in the future, researcher Donald Ingber told Bloomberg.

"This is a great startup opportunity because the same delivery system could be used to deliver any drug," Ingber said. "This clot-busting application alone--the diseases it targets in myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism and stroke--those are the big killers."

- here's Harvard's release
- check out FierceBiotechResearch's report
- get more from the Science abstract
- read the Bloomberg story

Correction: This story misreported the drug amount used in the nanoparticles as one-fifth that of standard therapies. It should have been one-fiftieth the amount. We regret the error.