One problem following a heart attack incident or a stroke is the presence of blood clots. These can make the severity of the condition worse or can trigger a recurrence. Medical procedures to address these life-threatening events need to be carried out in specialist hospital units and, in some cases due to the risk of internal bleeding, they cannot be performed.
A blood clot is technically known as a venous thromboembolism (VTE). It is a serious medical condition and some groups of people are more at risk than others.
A research group have come up with a novel method based on nanotechnology to deal with blood clots. The method is easy to administer and it could be potentially given by medical staff on arriving to deal with a medical issue.
The developed device is a nanoparticle packed with a clot destroying compound. The outer shell of the nanoparticle is equipped with an antibody that is designed to target activated platelets (the cells that form blood clots.) The nanoparticles are given the lengthy name “poly(2-oxazoline) (POx)-based multifunctional polymer capsules.”
Once the nanoparticle reaches the blood clot, thrombin (a molecule at the center of the clotting process) breaks the shell of the nanocapsule. This releases the drug that wipes out the blood clots and prevents blockage to a blood vessel.
Speaking with International Business Times, lead researcher Professor Hagemeyer said of the nanoparticle method: “This can be given in the ambulance straight away so you really save a lot of time and restore the blood flow to the critical organs much faster than currently possible.”
The nanotech device is at the early design stage. However, trials on animals have been successful and the objective is to move to human trials in the near future.
The research was carried out between Baker IDI Heart and the University of Melbourne. The study was funded by the National Heart Foundation of Australia. The findings have been published in the journal Advanced Materials, in a paper headed “Multifunctional Thrombin-Activatable Polymer Capsules for Specific Targeting to Activated Platelets.”