Using magnetic nanoparticles loaded with drugs and biochemical camouflage, researchers from Houston Methodist discovered that they can destroy blood clots significantly faster than traditional methods and techniques.

The research, published in Advanced Functional Materials, says that it can destroy clots 100 to 1000 faster. Notably, these findings are based on experiments in human blood and mouse clotting models; however, it will still be some time before they can be used globally in humans as treatment.

"We have designed the nanoparticles so that they trap themselves at the site of the clot, which means they can quickly deliver a burst of the commonly used clot-busting drug tPA where it is most needed," says Paolo Decuzzi, Ph.D., the study’s co-principal investigator and lead for the Houston Methodist Research Institute Department of Transitional Imaging.

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Using nanoparticles coated in iron oxide with albumin, a protein naturally found in blood, manages to provide a camouflage that gives the loaded nanoparticles enough time to reach the targeted blood clot before the body’s natural immune system recognizes the nanoparticles and attacks them.

"Treating clots is a serious problem for all hospitals, and we take them very seriously as surgeons," said cardiovascular surgeon and coauthor Alan Lumsden, M.D. in the press release. And he goes on to note the problems that still need to be overcome: "Although tPA and similar drugs can be very effective in rescuing our patients, the drug is broken down quickly in the blood, meaning we have to use more of it to achieve an effective clinical dose. Yet using more of the drug creates its own problems, increasing the risk of hemorrhage. If hemorrhage happens in the brain, it could be fatal."


Should the drug delivery method prove to be as successful in human clinical trials, this could pave the way for a a major step forward in the medical industry's effort to prevent heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embollisms ,and other situations and health concerns where untreated and undetected clots can cause massive tissue damage and death.

"The nanoparticle protects the drug from the body's defenses, giving the tPA time to work. [But] it also allows us to use less tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which could make hemorrhage less likely. We are excited to see if the technique works as phenomenally well for our patients as what we saw in these experiments," said Lumsden.

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