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Nanotechnology shows early promise to treat cardiovascular disease

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. A new tactic in the battle against cardiovascular disease employing nanoengineered molecules called "nanolipoblockers" as frontline infantry against harmful cholesterol is showing promise in early laboratory studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

In a paper scheduled for publication June 12 in the American Chemical Society's journal Biomacromolecules and now appearing on that journal's Web site, Rutgers researchers propose a way to combat clogged arteries by attacking how bad cholesterol triggers inflammation and causes plaque buildup at specific blood vessel sites. Their approach contrasts with today's statin drug therapy, which aims to reduce the amount of low density lipids, or LDLs ("bad" cholesterol), throughout the body.

In an ironic twist, the Rutgers approach aims to thwart a biological process that is typically beneficial and necessary. Prabhas Mogue, the principal investigator and associate professor of biomedical engineering and chemical and biochemical engineering at Rutgers, said that vascular plaque and inflammation develop when certain forms of LDL are attacked by white blood cells that scavenge cellular debris and disease agents. "While these scavengers, called macrophages, perform an essential role in keeping organisms healthy, their interaction with highly oxidized LDL molecules has quite the opposite effect," he said.

Mogue explains that macrophages accumulate large amounts of oxidized LDL and secrete chemicals that can damage the neighboring tissues and, ultimately, become fatty foam cells. The researchers' approach, therefore, is to create clusters of nanoengineered molecules that target specific receptor molecules on cell membranes and block these oxidized LDLs from attaching to macrophages.

Mogue is working with Kathryn Uhrich, Rutgers professor of chemistry and chemical biology, who is an expert at synthesizing biologically useful molecules at the nanoscale an
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Contact: Carl Blesch
cblesch@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x616
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
10-May-2006


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