50 Shades of Magnetic Hope

As we are only too aware, blood clots lead to strokes and heart attacks, which are a leading cause of death worldwide.

There is a drug out there which acts to dissolve the clot in the case of a stroke, and return normal blood flow to the vessel as safely and quickly as possible. However, there is only a very small window of time it can be used within. This limits the amount of people who are able to benefit from its use..

A new study talks of how magnetic nanoparticles delivering clot dissolving enzymes in a targeted fashion could be an effective solution to this problem. These findings come from tests at ITMO University and Mariinsky Hospital in St Petersburg, Russia. Their findings show that the magnetically controlled enzyme drug dissolves a clot up to 4,000 times more effectively than current drugs. They also suggest that these findings mean reduced drug dosages thus less side effects.

When clots form, oxygen is prevented from reaching surrounding tissue along with nutrients. If the clot is not removed within a few hours the tissue begins to die. With current drugs, even if the clot is dissolved quickly, there is a risk of side effects due to current enzyme based drugs affecting the whole circulatory system, not only the clot.

It is believed that in developed countries about 15% of cases are carried out effectively by these clot busting drugs, whereas in Russia the figure is only 2%. Therefore a higher number of people may be faced with disability, or even death.

These clot dissolving drugs currently available, contain enzymes to attack the clot successfully. The problem can occur once they are injected into the body, the body’s immune system rapidly begins attacking it which reduces its effectiveness. In order to compensate for this the drug has to be administered in knock out doses, so they can work before losing their effectiveness. Co-author, Ivan Dudanov head of Mariinsky hospital cardiovascular department, uses the analogy” it is like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.”

They describe that the composite material can be used in two ways as an injectable solution of nanosized particles that can be directly guided to the clots by using magnets externally, or as a clot dissolving coating for artificial blood vessels. They do however state they are not the first to suggest using a composite material to carry clot dissolving enzymes but others are based on slow release which means they lose their potency. They believe that the rate at which the new drug performs can dissolve the clots and outweigh unprotected enzymes by about 4,000 times. They also believe it is safe for human use as it is made of components that have already been approved for intravenous injection.

It doesn’t stop here either as they also believe in has another role, that it can be used to prevent clots. It could gently clean the blood vessels by circulating within the blood, it would remain active for some time and once no longer active, the body would disregard it through the liver and excreted naturally. Practical studies on mammals are now planned. I don’t know how you are feeling having read this, but personally I find it fascinating, even without those tests not having been carried out yet. I feel if it became available to trial, I would definitely be up for trying it. I particularly like the idea of the prevention of clots. Could this be a way forward, to have this treatment at regular times instead of constant blood thinning medication? I’m not a doctor so obviously I do not have the answer to this question but to me there is some logic in it, do you agree?


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