A new microfluidic method for evaluating drugs commonly used for preventing heart attacks can also be used to assess patients for the risk of blood clotting.
The main application of the method is to monitor the effects of aspirin. Aspirin can prevent dangerous blood clots in some at-risk patients; however, it may not be effective in all patients with narrowed arteries. Aspirin is a salicylate drug, often used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory medication.
To test whether the microfluidic method could be used to assess clotting risks, a study was undertaken which involved 14 human subjects. Microfluidics is a multidisciplinary field intersecting engineering, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, and biotechnology, with practical applications to the design of systems in which small volumes of fluids will be handled.
The study used a device that simulated blood flowing through narrowed coronary arteries to assess effects of anti-clotting drugs. With the trials, patients’ blood was tested in a patent-pending microfluidic device with narrow passageways to simulate the coronary arteries. The data are consistent with clinical findings showing that physiology has a major influence on the effectiveness of drugs used for heart attack prevention.
The outcome of the study was that the device appears successful. The researchers behind it believe that a benchtop diagnostic device like the one used in this study could save lives by preventing heart attacks.
The study was sponsored by the American Heart Association, a Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Translational Grant, and by a fellowship from the Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER) program at Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S.