This has formed major implications for how we can treat heart disease which is the main cause of death in the western world due to bad dieting, smoking & a lack of exercise. This method is achieve by injecting a lipid-incased substance into a patient. Once inside the body, the substance stimulates cell growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, including those lost from a heart disease. It has been tested successfully on rats and the studies were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The method was developed Aaron Baker who is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He said
“Our method basically delivers extra components that can restore growth factor responsiveness to the tissue of patients with long-standing clinical disease.”
The following video shows the blood vessels growing (speeded up).
The new treatment can be proven crucial to save lives. Chronic myocardial ischemia disease affects up to 27 million patients in the United States alone. The disease reduces blood flow in the heart and lower limbs,ultimately causing organ dysfunction and failure. However the new treatment is said to most probably be able to cure this disease though producing this treatment and then stocking it in the market may cost a lot. Therefore countries in the third world or in poverty will most likely have less access to this cure – another example of the harsh reality between the gap of the rich and the poor which only seems to be becoming wider. Doctors have treated ischemia by physically opening the closed artery with a stent or surgically rerouting blood flow to the damaged tissue. However this method has limitations as well as not being effective in the long-term.
In recent times, the challenge for scientists as well as chemical engineers has been to bind specific substances with cell receptors – the molecules found on the surface of the cell that receive chemical signals and control activities in the cell from outside sources. Baker’s method creates the growth factors in synthetic lipid-based nanoparticles. The nanoparticles contain receptors that, when delivered with the growth factor, improve cell binding so that the growth factor can direct the targeted cell to divide and form new cells. This results in blood vessel growth.
As years go by science seems to surprise with what seemed a miracle 10 years. Makes me wonder what science has for us in the years to come. Only time will tell.