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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Bioengineering Research on Nanoparticles Receives Additional Funding

March 28, 2008

University of Texas at Arlington Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Kytai Nguyen has received $352,000 from the National Institutes of Health to continue her research to develop platelet-mimicking nanoparticles that can carry drugs to injured blood vessel walls after cardiovascular interventions such as angioplasty.

Dr. Nguyen began this study last year, thanks to a $260,000 Scientist Development Award from the American Heart Association. This new, two-year grant overlaps and complements the earlier study. The development of these nanoparticles is a unique strategy to rapidly target and deliver therapeutic agents to damaged cells.

Angioplasty is a technique used to dilate an area of arterial blockage. The American Heart Association estimates that more than one million angioplasty procedures are performed every year. In the procedure, a catheter with a balloon-shaped tip is inserted in an artery and positioned next to the blockage; the balloon is inflated, pushing the blockage toward the arterial wall and expanding it.

These cardiovascular interventions often injure the vessel wall, leading to the development of pathological conditions such as inflammation and restenosis, the closing or narrowing of an artery that was previously opened by an invasive procedure.

The drug-loaded nanoparticles being developed by Dr. Nguyen are made of biodegradable polymers and contain dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug. Because the nanoparticles are designed to mimic platelets, they adhere quickly to the damaged area and are taken up more easily by the vascular cells, improving the healing process.

Dr. Nguyen’s in vitro research and tests are progressing as planned and demonstrate constant improvement. She hopes to begin animal testing in two years to evaluate the efficacy of these nanoparticles. These in vivo tests will involve rats with balloon-injured arteries.