WEDNESDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- A two-step procedure that uses nanoparticles to first scrub plaque out of arteries and then inserts stem cells to promote healing of those arteries may one day help individuals with atherosclerosis, new research suggests.
"One of the problems of removing plaque [with current methods such as angioplasty] is that there is damage to the underlying wall," explained Dr. Edward A. Fisher, director of the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City, who was not involved with the research. "The rate of restenosis [when the vessel closes over again] is very high."
This new technique, performed only in pigs so far, would circumvent that problem with this "somewhat provocative ability to heal the vessel wall by administering stem cells after you injure the vessels," Fisher said. "If this were true in people, it could be an option for the future."
The research, conducted by Russian scientists, was presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association's Basic Cardiovascular Sciences -- Technological and Conceptual Advances in Cardiovascular Disease meeting, in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Nineteen pigs were divided into three groups, all receiving tiny nanoparticles either with or without stem cells (the stem cells were also delivered in one of two different ways). A second set of 18 pigs received salt water instead of nanoparticles.
The nanoparticles were delivered directly into the pigs' hearts, then heated with lasers to clear out the accumulated plaque, a procedure referred to as "nanoburning."
Six months after the procedure, plaque volume was reduced an average of 56.8 percent in the pigs receiving nanoparticles vs. an increase of 4.3 percent in the control group.
Pigs who had received both nanoparticles and stem cells showed the greatest improvements, along with signs of a
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