Targeted nanoparticles could treat heart disease

Scientists in the USA have created new 'nanoburrs', which they claim could be used to target and treat damaged areas of the heart.

The group from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University found that the targeted nanoparticles could be directed to affected vascular tissue, where they cling and deliver drugs aimed at clearing arteries slowly.

Following previous research relating to targeted applications of cancer drugs, the experts coated nanoparticles in fragments of protein to encourage them to stick to the damaged walls of arteries.

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

A team from the Royal Free Hospital in London was recently granted funding by the Wellcome Trust to start clinical trials on humans of a new artificial artery, which was developed using nanotechnology.

Reproduced with permission from the British Standards Institute 'Health and medical devices newsletter', January 2010.

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