"Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the U.S., particularly for men who die of strokes and heart attacks brought on by blocked or closed arteries," said Roger Marchant, the lead researcher on the study and professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University. "Our research focuses on using liposomes, small spherical shaped artificial vesicles only 100 nanometers across or 1/100 the size of a single cell, as drug carriers that could be injected to directly target damaged areas of the arteries in intravascular disease," he said.
Liposomes are produced from natural nontoxic phospholipids (fat derivatives in which one fatty acid has been replaced by a phosphate group and one of several nitrogen-containing molecules) and cholesterol. They are already being used as carriers for water soluble anticancer drugs that treat cancers of the blood, lymph system, bladder, breast, stomach, lungs, ovaries, thyroid, nerves, kidneys, bones and soft tissues, including muscles and tendons and others.
"Liposomes as a drug delivery device is novel in cardiovascular disease," Marchant said. "These nanoscale devices are extremely versatile because they are easily modified, they encapsulate a large volume for carrying therapeutic drug agents and we can vary their composition."
Marchant is developing the liposomes to target injured arteries with the help of a $1.4 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. He works with co-investigator Zhong-Wu Guo, CWRU professor of chemistry, as well as Jim Anderson, CWRU professor of pathology. Anderson handles the modeling for testing the device; Cleveland Clinic researchers Marc Penn, a cardiologist who supervises rat models with invivo targeting of the device; and Ka
Contact: Marci E. Hersh
Case Western Reserve University