A "starving" nanoparticle that enters your body and eats your internal waste looks almost like a nightmare straight out of a Dick novel, but it could be a future defense. As absurd as it may sound, it could be foolproof against heart attacks, strokes and other deadly diseases.
Developed by scientists at the state universities of Michigan and Stanford, the innovative nanoparticle called "Trojan Horse" (a name borrowed more in the world of computer viruses than mythology) works by munching on portions of the plaques responsible for heart attacks.
To better represent the concept, the researchers recently demonstrated that the specially developed nanoparticle is able to precisely adapt to the plaque responsible for arteriosclerosis, a leading cause of death.
"Nanotherapy enters inflammatory monocytes (a type of white blood cell) in the blood and carries them to plaque where they become macrophages that devour cell debris," he said. Bryan Smith, associate professor of biomedical engineering at MSU.
Trojan Horse: the nanoparticle stabilizes the plaque with minimal side effects.
And they do not just provide great support to those who risk a heart attack: the nanoparticle is already potentially revolutionary and can be used in many other applications (of the nanomachines I spoke here in December).
"You may be wondering: Can it cure cancer?", He said Smith. “We think so. However, such other diseases require much more research. This strategy improves existing treatments due to its selectivity. The nanoparticle is exquisitely selective towards inflammatory monocytes and macrophages, which allows it to reduce the side effects that may be associated with other treatments. "
The human test has not yet started
So far, researchers have demonstrated efficacy in a culture dish and in two types of mice that have developed arteriosclerosis.
They then plan to test large animal models and human tissues, as well as examine how their nanoparticle works by "carrying" other treatments.
It can also function as a diagnostic tool
The team also explores how the nanoparticle could be used as a diagnostic imaging tool, highlighting particular cells.
The article describing the interesting study was recently published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Devour it!