Nano technology tackles heart disease

Kamis, 25 Maret 2010 ·

Professor Robert Langer, one of the authors of the research, said: “This is a very exciting example of nanotechnology and cell targeting in action.” He said the technology could target any condition in which the cell wall was compromised in this way, including certain types of cancer, and other inflammatory diseases. Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said that while the technology was “promising”, there were many time-consuming obstacles to overcome before it could be regularly used in patients. He said: “This is an interesting proof of principle. People have been looking for a long time for ways to target a particular drug to a particular part of the body. “It wouldn’t be able to replace the need for a balloon and stent to open an artery, but it’s possible that one day, it may be able to deliver a drug to treat atherosclerosis itself.” They used a new technique called scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM), which gives an image of the surface of the cardiac muscle cell at more detailed levels than those possible using conventional live microscopy. This enabled the researchers to see fine structures such as minute tubes (t-tubules), which carry electrical signals deep into the core of the cell. They could also see that the muscle cell surface is badly disrupted in heart failure. There are two types of receptors for adrenaline. The first, beta1AR, strongly stimulates the heart to contract and it can also induce cell damage in the long term. The second, beta2AR, can slightly stimulate contraction but it also has special protective properties. For today's study, the researchers combined SICM with new chemical probes which give fluorescent signals when beta1AR or beta2AR is activated

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