March 02, 2016
Performing surgery to open blocked blood vessels can save someone's life, but it can also damage a layer of protective cells known as the endothelium. Scientists at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are now experimenting with an innovative technique to help heal those blood vessels: magnetic nanoparticles.
As the CHOP Research Institute explains, it's dangerous when blood vessels are stripped of this protective lining. Serious complications can include blood clots or re-hardening of the arteries. However, it can take months for the endothelial cells to grow back on their own.
Dr. Michael Chorny is leading a team of scientists who are using biodegradable magnetic particles to help guide new endothelial cells into place after surgery. The goal is to "put some seeds of endothelium regrowth" into the artery.
Here's how it works: Doctors put the magnetic nanoparticles inside endothelial cells, then release them into the artery while the patient is inside a magnetic field, for example, an MRI machine. Because the particles are attracted to stents placed in the artery during surgery, they guide the cells to the exact right spot in the blood vessel.
Researchers successfully tested the procedure in rats and published their findings in the Journal of Controlled Release in January. Their hope is that in the future, people will be able to recover from cardiac procedures -- not within months but days.
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