tPA Coated Nanoparticles Dissolve Blood Clots Quickly

By using tPA coated nanoparticles researchers have dissolved blood clots, the cause of strokes and heart attacks, 100 to a 1000 times faster.

When people have a stroke or a heart attack caused by blood clots doctors race the clock to dissolve the blockage before a loss of oxygen causes too much tissue damage. One common drug used to dissolve blood clots is tPA, tissue plasminogen activator, an enzyme present in low concentrations in blood. This enzyme is injected upstream of a suspected blood clot eventually dissolving it. New research from Houston Methodist have found a way to dissolve blood clots much faster using tPA coated nanoparticles.

tPA Coated Nanoparticles Bust Clots Quickly

The study was published in the journal Advanced functional materials.

In this study researchers used nanoparticles with an iron oxide core coated with the protein albumin and the clot busting drug tPA. Albumin is a common protein found in blood, coating the nanoparticles in albumin help avoid detection of the immune system.


tPA coated nanoparticles

Iron oxide (red), albumin (grey), tPA (green).
Credit: Paolo Decuzzi laboratory

“We have designed the nanoparticles so that they trap themselves at the site of the clot, which means they can quickly deliver a burst of the commonly used clot-busting drug tPA where it is most needed,” said Paolo Decuzzi, Ph.D., the study’s co-principal investigator.

Having iron oxide at the center of the nanoparticle allow researchers to use MRI scans to follow the progress of injected particles, makes it possible to guide the particles to the right spot and heat the nanoparticles busting the blood clots faster.

Researchers tested how effective the coated nanoparticles were using both human tissue cultures and mice. In mice researchers introduced blood clots and then injected and followed nanoparticles optically to measure how quickly they could dissolve the blood clots. They found that the coated nanoparticles worked lightning fast, dissolving blood clots about 100 times faster than controls.

However the tPA could be stimulated to work even faster. In a second experiment researchers heated the tPA coated nanoparticles using a magnetic field. At 42 degrees Celsius the coated nanoparticles dissolved blood clots even faster, dissolving blood clots 1000 times faster than controls.

The next step for researchers is to test the safety of the tPA coated nanoparticles in other animal models with the final goal being human clinical trials. Researchers are hopeful since the FDA have already approved iron oxide as a contrast agent in MRI scans, the same material in the center of the tPA coated nanoparticles.

Image Credit: ravindra gandhi via, CC BY-SA 2.0