A technique that combines nanotechnology with adult stem cells appears to destroy atherosclerotic plaque and rejuvenate the arteries, according to a study reported at the American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular Sciences 2010 Scientific Sessions — Technological and Conceptual Advances in Cardiovascular Disease.
In the study, nanoparticles (microscopic particles with at least one dimension less than 80 nm) were infused into the heart of pigs along with adult stem cells. After the nanoparticles were heated by laser light, they burned away arterial plaque. However, nanoparticles were less effective at eliminating plaque if not combined with adult stem cells.
“This unique approach holds promise for use in humans for acute care and urgent restoration of blood flow,” said Alexandr Kharlamov, M.D., lead author and research manager at the Department of Internal Medicine and Research Center of Regenerative Medicine, Ural State Medical Academy in Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation. “Biophotonics (light therapy), plasmonics (plasma therapy), stem cell therapy and nanotechnology might someday offer a completely novel treatment to reduce artery plaque build-up.”
Unlike angioplasty, a common treatment for atherosclerosis, this new technique seems to actually demolish the plaque, Kharlamov said. In angioplasty, a balloon-tipped catheter is threaded into a blocked artery and the balloon is inflated to restore blood flow. The balloon squeezes plaque against the artery wall, but does not eliminate it.