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Heart patients may be injected with microscopic drug-releasing particles that cling to the inside walls of diseased arteries.
The so-called “nanoburrs” have been successfully tested in rats by US scientists.
The particles, consisting of spheres 60 nanometres across and more than 100 times smaller than a red blood cell, are coated with tiny protein fragments allowing them to stick to the broken surface of damaged artery walls.
At their cores, they have a drug designed to combat narrowing of blood vessels bound to a chain-like polymer molecule. The drug is released over days and gets to work treating the artery. The time of release is controlled by varying the length of the polymer.
Nanoburrs could be employed alongside vascular stents, standard care implants that prop open obstructed arteries, said the researchers.
“This is a very exciting example of nanotechnology and cell targeting in action that I hope will have broad ramifications,” said Professor Robert Langer, one of the research scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.
Copyright Press Association 2010