News / Health

Clot Buster Shoots Straight to Problem

Clusters of nanoparticles break apart and release an anti-clotting drug when they encounter vascular narrowing. (Graphic courtesy of Wyss Institute)
Clusters of nanoparticles break apart and release an anti-clotting drug when they encounter vascular narrowing. (Graphic courtesy of Wyss Institute)
TEXT SIZE - +
Jessica Berman
Scientists have developed a safer, more effective way to deliver a life-saving anti-clotting drug to people with obstructed blood vessels.

Researchers found that, when microscopically small nanoparticles were coated with the drug and injected into the bloodstream, the particles targeted clogged vessels and the drug coating dissolved the clots before they could cause damage or death.

Blood clots are responsible for a variety of life-threatening conditions, including heart attack, stroke and a lung blockage known as a pulmonary embolism. There are several effective anti-clotting agents that doctors can use to clear these clogged blood vessels, including one called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA.  

But like other anti-clotting agents, tPA carries a significant risk of causing potentially fatal internal bleeding. So doctors must weigh tPA's benefits against its risk to seriously ill patients.                                                                           

Now, an experimental drug involving nanotherapeutic technology could eliminate tPA's risk.

Don Ingber is director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Ingber says that tPA-coated clusters of nanoparticles, each no bigger than the platelets that help form blood clots, can seek out the clots, quickly bind to them and break them down.  

"It travels around your blood vessels in the bloodstream as this larger particle that's the size of a platelet," Ingber says. "And then when it sees a narrowing of vessels, it breaks up into the grains which then stick to the clot and digest it."

The nanoparticles are made from a biodegradable polymer or plastic, similar to dissolving surgical stitches, and are held together by a static charge. Each particle is coated with miniscule amounts of tPA, the kind of trace amounts used by practitioners in the alternative medicine field, homeopathy.  

"We're able to use one-fiftieth to one one-hundredth of the dose, which basically is almost homeopathic if you inject it, it doesn't do anything," Ingber says. "But by putting it on these little small particles that only release it when they see the occlusion [blockage], all of them get concentrated at that site. So we are able to dissolve the blood clot efficiently with a much, much lower dose and those lower side effects."

Researchers injected experimental mice with blood clots that went to their lungs. The animals died in less than an hour. But 80 percent of mice treated with the nanotherapeutic drug survived.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid