Researchers announced last week that
they were using nano-sized micelles
to treat spinal cord injury with impressive restoration of
coordinated limb movement in injured lab rats that would leave them
paralyzed without treatment. Researchers at Emory University and the
Georgia Institute of Technology today announced that they have
developed microscopic polymer beads that are capable of delivering
an antioxidant enzyme directly to the heart. When mice in lab
tests were treated with the beads after a simulated heart attack, the
number of dying cells was reduced resulting in improved heart
function days later.
The specific enzyme used is called
superoxide dismutase (SOD) and it is able to soak up toxic free
radicals produced when cells don't receive the blood they need to
survive during a heart attack. The researchers have tried previously
using SOD injected alone into the body to no avail.
Michael Davis, PhD said, "Our goal is to have a therapy to blunt
the permanent damage of a heart attack and reduce the probability of
heart failure later in life. This is a way to get extra amounts of a
beneficial antioxidant protein to the cells that need it."
tiny polymer particles are created with a material called polyketals
developed by professor Niren Murthy PhD at the Georgia Institute of
Technology. The polyketals encapsulate the enzyme and are then
taken up by the cells within the heart where the enzyme is slowly
released. Once empty the microparticles break down in the body into
nontoxic components. The same polyketal microparticles have also been
used by Davis and his team to encapsulate anti-inflammatory drugs.