Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Arterial glue mimics mussel secretions

How AWESOME is this?? So scientists had this issue with trying to "cap" plaque in the arteries-- the gel that they were using kept washing away because of the rapid, continuous blood flow through the artery. Well, they said, "Hey, you know, marine mollusks like mussels have to function with constant, powerful waves breaking on their surfaces-- what if we try to mimic those chemical compounds to create an arterial gel to solve our problems?" And so they did! And it works! Science is so amazing!
A problem with effective delivery of anti-inflammatory drugs to targets inside blood vessels is how to keep those drugs from being washed away by the rapid rate of blood flow. Gluing them in situ is the solution offered by Christian Kastrup of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The glue, or hydrogel to be precise, is a synthetic material that mimics the qualities of marine mussels’ adhesive secretions. “We thought, well, if marine mussels can stick so well [to rocks] even with waves crashing over them, maybe that chemistry could be used inside blood vessels,” says Kastrup. The gel was mixed with a curing agent, delivered to the walls of mouse arteries through nonstick Teflon catheters, and then allowed to cure before catheters were removed, in order to prevent the vessels from sticking shut. The gel did not cause any blockages or blood clots, and didn’t get washed away—it was still in place 4 months later. The team showed that by incorporating an anti-inflammatory drug, the gel could be used to reduce local inflammation in atherosclerotic plaques in mice. And Robert Levy, a cardiovascular researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that the gel might also be good for delivering drugs during balloon angioplasties—a procedure that inflates a balloon inside a narrowed artery to compress plaque deposits and improve flow. “The companies that make the current drug-coated balloons know that 95 percent of the drug is washed away . . . so the technology really needs major improvements,” he says. “A coating like the one described [by Kastrup] would be one of strong interest.”
Mimicking Mussels - The Scientist Magazine Credit for image goes to The Scientist Magazine.

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