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Old and new therapies combine to tackle atherosclerosis
Date:9/15/2008

Futuristic nanotechnology has been teamed with a decades-old drug to beat atherosclerotic plaques in research conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The scientists have found that drug-laced nanoparticles plus a statin could stop the growth of tiny blood vessels that feed arterial plaques. Their results suggest that the dual treatment also prevents the vessels from restarting their growth, which could shrink or stabilize plaques. Although the data were obtained in tests on rabbits, they raise hope that a similar approach could help human patients with atherosclerosis.

The nanoparticles minute spheres about 20,000 times smaller than the diameter of a straight pin were coated with a substance that made them stick in growing blood vessels and with fumagillin, a potent compound that stops blood vessel growth.

"We saw that statins sustain the acute inhibition of blood vessel growth produced by the fumagillin nanoparticles within the plaque," says senior author Gregory Lanza, M.D., Ph.D., a Washington University cardiologist at Barnes Jewish Hospital.

Lanza and co-senior author Samuel A. Wickline, M.D., published these results in the September issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging. Patrick M. Winter, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine, was the lead author of the study. Lanza is professor of medicine and biomedical engineering. Wickline is professor of medicine, physics, biomedical engineering and cell biology and physiology.

Patients with atherosclerosis often take statins to lower cholesterol. Statins also decrease atherosclerotic plaque progression by modestly inhibiting proliferation of new vessels (neovessels) within plaques. These neovessels provide increased blood and oxygen to cells in actively developing plaques. Because of their high fragility, neovessels often rupture, leading to local hemorrhages that greatly accelerate the disease process.
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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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