Drones preventing heart attack? That’s right; it is nanodrone (the smaller scale) administering molecules that destroy fat deposits that have formed in the arteries and, according to scientists at Columbia and Harvard University, could become a new way to prevent heart attacks.
So far, the study published in “Science Translational Medicine”, have tested these biodegradable nanoparticles loaded with a molecule that destroys fat in mice with advanced atherosclerosis and the results have been very positive. The nanoparticles were designed so that they went to the ‘hot spots’ of atherosclerosis in the arteries. In fact, about 70% of the nanoparticles were located in atherosclerotic plaques (fat deposits).
Atherosclerosis is triggered by inflammation as a normal repair response of the organism; that is, fat-containing particles (called low density lipoprotein or LDL) that stick to our arteries act as chips on our skin. But while the skin is repaired by eliminating chips, deposits of LDL can remain indefinitely and neck healing begins. And it is in these “hot spots” of the arteries where the stroke occurs: the fatty plaques tend to rupture and, in doing so, clots or blood clots that block blood flow to the heart is formed.
Many researchers try to develop drugs to prevent mitigating inflammation heart attacks, but this approach has some drawbacks. One is that atherosclerosis is a chronic disease, so that drugs should be taken for years, even decades. In addition, an anti-inflammatory drug that is distributed throughout the body could also damage the immune system’s ability to fight infection. That could be acceptable in situations where life is in danger, such as rheumatoid arthritis, but the use of this approach to prevent a heart attack that may never happen can be more dangerous than good. In addition, it is not enough to deliver an anti-inflammatory drug in the fatty plaques. Atherosclerosis is not only inflammation – there is also damage to the arterial wall and, if the damage is not repaired, you may be unable to prevent heart attacks, rather than reduce inflammation and then start healing, used in nanodrones a “curative” protein called annexin A1. With this combination of peptides annexin and precision-guided nanoparticles therapy reaches only the areas that need it and so potentially dangerous side effects are avoided.
The nanoparticles used in this are specifically designed to adhere to areas of arteries that have been damaged by atherosclerotic plaques. They are also coated with polymers that hide from the immune system. Although atherosclerotic plaques in mice closely resemble those of humans, mice do not have heart attacks, so the true ‘litmus test’ of nanoparticles will be when tested in humans. For now the scientists have demonstrated for the first time a drug that promotes resolution of inflammation and repair is a viable option when the drug is administered directly to the plates through nanoparticles.
This type of nanoparticles was used in clinical trials for cancer, but still must demonstrate long-term safety. Also they can be taken orally, rather than injection. Meanwhile, the best way to prevent a heart attack remains the control of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol through diet, exercise, weight control and, if necessary, medication.