New nanoparticle detects harmful blood clots

    2013/11/09

NSFW    A research team at MIT developed a novel nanoparticle that detects blood clots before
they cause stroke or other adverse cardiac events. This non-invasive clot detection assay presents an fast and affordable method to screen for blood clots in at-risk patients.

Blood clots are formed in the vasculature by a protein known as thrombin, which activates the sticky clot-forming fibrin along with other clotting mechanisms. Thrombin also breaks down the synthetic nanoparticle, which is then excreted in urine. Digested nanoparticles can then be detected by antibodies that bind specifically to nanoparticle fragments.

The researchers found that the detected fragments are directly proportional to the level of blood clotting in the experimental mice’s lungs.

The iron oxide nanoparticle is made up of a “nanoworm” core, and synthetic peptide extensions with regions that can be recognized and digested by thrombin. It has been approved for human injections by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science who headed this study, plans to commercialize this technology with funding granted by the university’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, according to an MIT News report.

Other existing tests can indirectly detect the presence of blood clots. One test picks up the presence of fibrin byproducts, which is produced when blood clots dissolve. Yet such tests do not detect the clot at its initial formation.

“Some patients are at more risk for clotting, but existing blood tests are not consistently able to detect the formation of new clots,” Sangeeta Bhatia said.
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