Nanoparticles From Air Pollution Travel Into Blood To Cause Heart Disease

Inhaled nanoparticles – like those released from vehicle exhausts – can work their way through the lungs and into the bloodstream, potentially raising the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to new research part-funded by the British Heart Foundation. The findings, published today in the journal ACS Nano, build on previous studies that have found tiny particles in air pollution are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, although the cause remains unproven. However, this research shows for the first time that inhaled nanoparticles can gain access to the blood in healthy individuals and people at risk of stroke. Most worryingly, these nanoparticles tend to build-up in diseased blood vessels where they could worsen coronary heart disease – the cause of a heart attack.

It is not currently possible to measure environmental nanoparticles in the blood. So, researchers from the University of Edinburgh, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, used a variety of specialist techniques to track the fate of harmless gold nanoparticles breathed in by volunteers. They were able to show that these nanoparticles can migrate from the lungs and into the bloodstream within 24 hours after exposure and were still detectable in the blood three months later. By looking at surgically removed plaques from people at high risk of stroke they were also able to find that the nanoparticles accumulated in the fatty plaques that grow inside blood vessels and cause heart attacks and strokesCardiovascular disease (CVD) – the main forms of which are coronary heart disease and stroke – accounts for 80% of all premature deaths from air pollution.

Blood_Heart_Circulation

It is striking that particles in the air we breathe can get into our blood where they can be carried to different organs of the body. Only a very small proportion of inhaled particles will do this, however, if reactive particles like those in air pollution then reach susceptible areas of the body then even this small number of particles might have serious consequences,”  said Dr Mark Miller, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh who led the study.

Source: http://www.cvs.ed.ac.uk/

How To Detect Blood Clots With Simple in-Home Test

For millions of Americans at risk for blood clots, strokes and hypertension, routine lab tests to monitor blood-thinning medications can be frequent, costly and painful.
But researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) are developing materials and technology for a simple in-home screening that could be a game changer for patients with several life-threatening conditions.
Patients with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and others who are at risk for blood clotting are especially vulnerable when blood-thinning medication levels get too weak or too strong. This imbalance can quickly lead to ischemic (clotting) or hemorrhagic (bleeding) strokes if not detected in time.

blood clotsWe have developed a blood screening device for patients on medications like Coumadin, warfarin or other blood thinners who need to monitor their blood-clotting levels on a regular basis,” says Andrew Steckl, UC professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.  Patients can soon monitor their blood coagulation characteristics from home quickly and painlessly before making needless trips to the lab or hospital.

Source: http://www.uc.edu/

How To Diagnose Heart Attacks With A Thermometer

Diagnosing a heart attack can require multiple tests using expensive equipment. But not everyone has access to such techniques, especially in remote or low-income areas. Now scientists have developed a simple, thermometer-like device that could help doctors diagnose heart attacks with minimal materials and cost. The report on their approach appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.
thermometer to diagnose heart attacks
Sangmin Jeon from Pohang University of Science and Technology (Korea), and colleagues note that one way to tell whether someone has had a heart attack involves measuring the level of a protein called troponin in the person’s blood. The protein’s concentration rises when blood is cut off from the heart, and the muscle is damaged. Today, detecting troponin requires bulky, expensive instruments and is often not practical for point-of-care use or in low-income areas. Yet three-quarters of the deaths related to cardiovascular disease occur in low- and middle-income countries. Early diagnosis could help curb these numbers, so Jeon’s team set out to make a sensitive, more accessible test.

Inspired by the simplicity of alcohol and mercury thermometers, the researchers created a similarly straightforward way to detect troponin. It involves a few easy steps, a glass vial, specialized nanoparticles, a drop of ink and a skinny tube. When human serum with troponin — even at a minute concentration — is mixed with the nanoparticles and put in the vial, the ink climbs up a protruding tube and can be read with the naked eye, just like a thermometer.

Source: http://www.acs.org/content/acs/

RNA Silences Genes, Treats Cancer

RNA interference (RNAi), a technique that can turn off specific genes inside living cells, holds great potential for treating many diseases caused by malfunctioning genes. RNA, a nanoparticle, transfers information from DNA to protein-forming system of the cell. However, it has been difficult for scientists to find safe and effective ways to deliver gene-blocking RNA to the correct targets.
Up to this point, researchers have gotten the best results with RNAi targeted to diseases of the liver, in part because it is a natural destination for nanoparticles. But now, in a study appearing in the May 11 issue of Nature Nanotechnology, an MIT-led team reports achieving the most potent RNAi gene silencing to date in nonliver tissues.
Using nanoparticles designed and screened for endothelial delivery of short strands of RNA called siRNA, the researchers were able to target RNAi to endothelial cells, which form the linings of most organs. This raises the possibility of using RNAi to treat many types of disease, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, the researchers say.

MIT engineers designed RNA-carrying nanoparticles (red) that can be taken up
There’s been a growing amount of excitement about delivery to the liver in particular, but in order to achieve the broad potential of RNAi therapeutics, it’s important that we be able to reach other parts of the body as well,” says Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and one of the paper’s senior authors.
The paper’s other senior author is Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of the Koch Institute. Lead authors are MIT graduate student James Dahlman and Carmen Barnes of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.

Source: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/