ShareThis Page
U.S./World

Scientists find way to deliver drug to targets

| Friday, July 6, 2012, 8:14 p.m.

Scientists found a way to use natural clot-producing mechanisms to deliver targeted medicine in a study that may have implications for treatments of heart attacks and stroke.

Obstructions in blood vessels lead to a force called shear stress, attracting platelets that form blood clots. Researchers designed a drug-delivery method that activates only in those conditions, potentially enabling targeted delivery of clot-busting medicines in lower doses that can be given before a patient gets to a hospital, they wrote in a paper published online today in the journal Science.

Heart disease and stroke are some of the leading causes of death, with about 785,000 Americans a year having their first coronary attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medicines designed to eliminate clots in those events often need to be given in a hospital and in doses that can lead to side effects such as excessive bleeding, limiting the number of patients who can take them, said Donald Ingber, a professor of vascular biology at Harvard Medical School in Boston and an author of the study.

“People have wanted to figure out targeting, but they haven't come up with a way,” said Ingber, who is director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. The delivery system, called shear-activated nanotherapeutics, is a bundle of drug-coated particles that travel together until they reach the obstruction, when the shear stress causes them to break apart and attack clots. The study, done in mice, used an approved clot-targeting therapy called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, and found that the system allowed for use of less than one-fiftieth the normal dose to dissolve clots, Ingber said.

The technique is years away from testing in humans, and the scientists have plans to improve some of the chemistry involved, Ingber said. While the technology isn't backed by a company, there are discussions about it, he said.

“This is a great startup opportunity because the same delivery system could be used to deliver any drug,” Ingber said, citing anti-inflammatories for atherosclerotic plaques, as well as therapies for sickle cell anemia and coronary spasm. “This clot-busting application alone — the diseases it targets in myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism and stroke — those are the big killers.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me