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Nanotechnology enables low-dose treatment of atherosclerotic plaques

s to cells found in newly developing blood vessels. Stuck in this position, the nanoparticle drops its load of fumagillin, concentrating it at the site of the atherosclerotic plaque.

In this study, the single dosage of fumagillin each rabbit received was 50,000 times lower than the total fumagillin dose used in an earlier experiment by another research group and yet reduced the growth of new blood vessels in plaques by 60 to 80 percent.

"Fumagillin can have neurocognitive side effects, causing injury to the brain at high doses," Winter says. "The ability of the nanoparticles to concentrate the drug at the disease site allows the dose to be lowered. This could open the door for a lot of drugs that have failed to be approved because they caused too many side effects at a higher dose. It might pay to look at these drugs again and ask if placing them on these nanoparticles can help them be effective at a lower dose and clinically useful."

The nanoparticles are the invention of Samuel Wickline, M.D., professor of medicine, of biomedical engineering, of physics and of cell biology and physiology, and Gregory Lanza, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and biomedical engineering. Both are heart specialists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The microscopic spheres are capable of carrying a variety of components at the same time and can be detected with standard MRI scans, making them useful for imaging disease sites while simultaneously treating them. Using the nanoparticles, a physician can confirm a drug has reached the desired location, measure the amount of drug at the site, and later check to see if the drug has affected the disease.

In the current study, the researchers fed rabbits a high-cholesterol diet for 80 days before treatment with fumagillin nanoparticles. The diet caused numerous small plaques in the rabbits' aortas, but the plaques were considered to be at an early stage of growth. By demonstrating the utility of the nanoparticles
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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
27-Jul-2006


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