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Nanotechnology Could Revolutionize Cardiac Treatment

Scientists have developed nanomolcecules called ‘nanolipoblockers’ that guard against bad cholesterol. The molecules are designed in such a way that they offer a local therapeutic effect,// aimed at reducing the recurrence of blocked blood vessels in cardiac patients. These nanoengineered molecules, which represent the first line of defense against harmful cholesterol could soon join the fight against heart disease, perhaps even help prevent it in high-risk individuals.

In a paper scheduled for publication June 12 in the American Chemical Society's journal Biomacromolecules and now appearing on that journal's Web site, Rutgers researchers propose a way to combat clogged arteries by attacking how bad cholesterol triggers inflammation and causes plaque buildup at specific blood vessel sites. Their approach contrasts with today's statin drug therapy, which aims to reduce the amount of low-density lipids, or LDLs (‘bad’ cholesterol), throughout the body.

In an ironic twist, the Rutgers approach aims to thwart a biological process that is typically beneficial and necessary. Prabhas Mogue, the principal investigator and associate professor of biomedical engineering and chemical and biochemical engineering at Rutgers, said that vascular plaque and inflammation develop when certain forms of LDL are attacked by white blood cells that scavenge cellular debris and disease agents. ‘While these scavengers, called macrophages, perform an essential role in keeping organisms healthy, their interaction with highly oxidized LDL molecules has quite the opposite effect,’ he said.

Mogue explains that macrophages accumulate large amounts of oxidized LDL and secrete chemicals that can damage the neighboring tissues and, ultimately, become fatty foam cells. The researchers' approach, therefore, is to create clusters of nanoengineered molecules that target specific receptor molecules on cell membranes and block these oxidized LDLs from attaching to macrop
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