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New 'Nanoburrs' Could Help Fight Heart Disease

New 'Nanoburrs' Could Help Fight Heart Disease

MIT and Harvard researchers have turned their attention to cardiovascular disease, designing new particles that can cling to damaged artery walls and slowly release medicine.

The particles, dubbed "nanoburrs," are coated with tiny protein fragments that allow them to stick to damaged arterial walls.

Once stuck, they can release drugs such paclitaxel, which inhibits cell division and helps prevent growth of scar tissue that can clog arteries.

"This is a very exciting example of nanotechnology and cell targeting in action that I hope will have broad ramifications," says MIT Institute Professor Langer, senior author of a paper describing the nanoparticles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Langer and Omid Farokhzad, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and another senior author of the paper, have previously developed nanoparticles that seek out and destroy tumors. Their nanoburrs, however, are among the first particles that can zero in on damaged vascular tissue.

Mark Davis, professor of chemical engineering at Caltech, says the work is a promising step towards new treatments for cardiovascular and other diseases. "If they could do this in patients - target particles to injured areas - that could open up all kinds of new opportunities," says Davis, who was not involved in this research.


"Researchers have built targeted nanoparticles that can cling to artery walls and slowly release medicine, an advance that potentially provides an alternative to drug-releasing stents in some patients with cardiovascular disease. (Credit: Image courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology)"

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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