Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular disease characterized by the deposition of fat and cholesterol in the blood vessels of the body. This limits the supply of oxygenated blood to the heart and other organs, which could lead to heart attacks and strokes. Treatment primarily consists of a combination of lifestyle changes and medication, many of which are focused on alleviating symptoms as opposed to targeting the underlying mechanism of the disease.
Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism of the body, which on persistence becomes pathological. Physiologically, atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the process of resolution or termination of the inflammatory response is impaired.
In a study published in Science Translational Medicine (18 Feb, 2015), researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, USA, adopted a nanoparticle-based approach to target inflammation resolution. They paired the peptide sequence (Ac2-26), representing the biologically active portion of the annexin protein, an anti-inflammatory agent, with nanoparticles and tested their efficacy in resolving inflammation in mouse models of atherosclerosis. Compared to empty nanoparticle and nanoparticle-free drug delivery controls, the Ac2-26-nanoparticles complex proved effective in terminating the inflammatory response.
According to the study’s authors, after 5 weeks of treatment, the artery damage was repaired significantly and the plaques were stabilized.
However, these proof-of-concept studies have to be validated in other, more predictive models of the disease and extensive toxicity studies have to be conducted before this nanoparticle-based approach can be introduced to the clinic.
The original article can be accessed here.