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Scientists Design ‘Trojan Horse’ Nanoparticle That Eats Away Heart Attack Causing Plaques



Trojan horse

A healthy diet and lifestyle are the main components to warding off heart attack risks. However, a group of researchers created a helpful tool for those beyond preventative measures. Scientists from Michigan State and Stanford University design a trojan horse-like nanoparticle that eats away at heart attack causing plaques.

According to the recent Michigan State Study, this nanoparticle can be directed to eat away at the debris, reduce, and stabilize plaque. This can be a gamechanger in preventing atherosclerosis, a disease where plaque builds in the arteries, a leading cause of death in the United States.


Trojan Horse at Work—From the Inside Out

These nanoparticles are directed to deliver an agent that stimulates cells in the body to engulf and eat debris. It targets impure cell activity by reinvigorating the macrophages, a large cell typically found at sites of infection. This decreases plaque size and stabilizes blood cells.

“We found we could stimulate the macrophages to selectively eat dead and dying cells – these inflammatory cells are precursor cells to atherosclerosis – that are part of the cause of heart attacks,” said Bryan Smith, co-author of the study, in a statement.

Previous studies have worked on the surface of the cell which can serve as a treatment but doesn’t necessarily get to the source. This study shows how getting to the core of an issue can remove debris as well as being useful in other treatments.

Trojan Horse Nanoparticle

The dotted line outlines the atherosclerotic artery and the green represents our nanoparticles, which are in the plaque. The red indicates macrophages, which is the cell type that the nanoparticles are stimulating to eat the debris. Credit: Bryan Smith, Michigan State University

Further Applications Imply A Wide-Scope of Possibilities

We demonstrated the nanomaterials were able to selectively seek out and deliver a message to the very cells needed,” Smith said.

He also mentions a broad range of applications to follow this nano-particle approach.

“Future clinical trials on the nanoparticle are expected to reduce the risk of most types of heart attacks, with minimal side effects due to the unprecedented selectivity of the nano-drug,” Smith adds.


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