MIT researchers, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, have devised a new way
to turn blood clotting on and off using gold. This involves small particles of gold and the use of infrared laser light. One of the key advantages is that the clotting process can be turned on or off. Blood clotting
is important because it controls bleeding and seals wounds.
Specifically gold nanorods can be designed to release drugs or other compounds when activated with infrared light. The size of the nanorod determines the wavelength of light that will activate it, so two rods of different lengths can carry different payloads and be controlled separately. Coated onto the gold nanorods is DNA with a specific sequence inhibits the protein thrombin (which is involved in the last step of the blood clotting process).
When the gold nanorods
are exposed to the correct wavelength of infrared light, the electrons within the gold become very excited and generate so much heat that they melt slightly, taking on a more spherical shape and releasing their DNA payload.
The research could mean that the use of more variable methods of controlling blood clotting, such as administering blood thinners such as heparin, could be avoided in the future.
The findings have been published
in the journal PLoS One. The paper is titled “Selective Light-Triggered Release of DNA from Gold Nanorods Switches Blood Clotting On and Off.”