In a recent study from Michigan State University and Stanford University, scientists have invented a nanoparticle that eats away — from the inside out — portions of plaques that cause heart attacks.
They created a “Trojan Horse” nanoparticle that can be directed to eat debris, reducing, and stabilizing plaque. Basically, it removes the diseased/dead cells in the plaque core.
The discovery could be a potential treatment for atherosclerosis, a leading cause of death in the United States.
The team’s work focuses on intercepting the signaling of the receptors in a certain type of immune cell macrophages and sending a message via small molecules using nano-immunotherapeutic platforms.
Previous studies have acted on the surface of the cells, but this new approach works intracellularly and has been effective in stimulating macrophages.
The team found they could stimulate the macrophages to selectively eat dead and dying cells — these inflammatory cells are precursor cells to atherosclerosis — that are part of the cause of heart attacks.
They could deliver a small molecule inside the macrophages to tell them to begin eating again.
This approach also has applications beyond atherosclerosis.
The team showed the nanomaterials were able to selectively seek out and deliver a message to the very cells needed.
The team says that future clinical trials on the nanoparticle are expected to reduce the risk of most types of heart attacks, with minimal side effects due to the unprecedented selectivity of the nano-drug.
They have filed a provisional patent and will begin marketing it later this year.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that avocados can support a heart-healthy diet, and results showing after COVID-19, watch for these potential heart and brain problems.
The study was published in Nature Nanotechnology and conducted by Bryan Smith et al.
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