Emerging research on Atherosclerosis was presented at the American Heart Association’s Vascular Discovery: From Genes to Medicine Scientific Sessions 2018 in San Francisco. The conference is the leading global exchange of the latest advances, research, and current news about vascular biology for researchers and clinicians. The presentation proposed that modern medicine may one day create an injection to reverse atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a disease that leads to heart attacks, strokes, and death due to plaque build-up in the arteries. The plaque consists of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances that are found in the blood. The plaque hardens and narrows the arteries and limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the organs and other parts of the body, thus causes severe illnesses and death.
When treating a patient with atherosclerosis, goals of the treatments include, preventing atherosclerosis-related diseases, widening or bypassing plaque-clogged arteries, lowering the risk of blood clots forming, preventing atherosclerosis-related diseases, relieving symptoms, and reducing risk factors to slow or stop the buildup of plaque.
Treatments for atherosclerosis is available, namely carotid endarterectomy in which the surgeon is to remove plaque buildup from the carotid arteries in the neck, bypass grafting also can be used for leg arteries. For this surgery, a healthy blood vessel is used to bypass a narrowed or blocked artery in one of the legs, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a type of surgery. In CABG, arteries or veins from other areas in your body are used to bypass or go around your narrowed coronary arteries, Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as coronary angioplasty, is a procedure that’s used to open blocked or narrowed coronary (heart) arteries.
The treatments that are available as of the present are all invasive and considered as significant surgeries. That is why doctors, researchers, and clinicians are all working on alternatives. Neel A. Mansukhani, M.D. an integrated vascular surgery fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and lead author of the study said, they aimed to develop a non-invasive, non-surgical, novel therapy to halt and reverse the disease by actually targeting the vessel wall with peptide-based nanofibers produced in the laboratory. The tiny fibers contained particles that helped remove cholesterol deposits from the plaque in the artery walls.
Researchers created a self-assembling peptide amphiphile nanofiber that targeted areas of plaque and could be delivered by intravenous injection. Significantly, the synthetically engineered nanofibers contained an amino acid sequence that promotes the cholesterol to dissolve.
When Dr. Mansukhani and his team tested their hypothesis on mice, the results demonstrate that a novel targeted nanofiber binds specifically to atherosclerotic lesions and reduces plaque burden after short treatment duration. He noted, however, that this is preliminary research, and more is needed before this approach can be tested in humans.