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Treating cardiac arrhythmia with nanoparticles

Cardiac arrhythmia is a condition that causes the heart to beat erratically. This is due to the cells causing a malfunction in heart muscle tissue. Unchecked, the condition can trigger heart attack and stroke. Treatment is possible through drugs. However, these drugs carry unwanted side effects. Other methods designed to address the problem cells, such as laser treatment, risk damaging surrounding cells.

The newly developed nanoparticle, created at the University of Michigan, utilizes nanotechnology to seek, locate and destroy cells within the heart that are causing cardiac arrhythmia to occur. The nanoparticles are packed with a special light sensitive chemical.

The new technique uses nanoparticles to seek and mark the problem cells. As well as containing the light sensitive chemical, the tiny nanoparticles also contain an amino acid-based peptide. The peptide allows the nanoparticles to be taken up by the targeted heart cells. Once identified, medics can then use low-level red light illumination to destroy them. The nanoparticles were successfully trialled on rodents and sheep. These trials showed that the problematic cells in the heart can be destroyed, with the effects of cardiac arrhythmia abated. At the same time surrounding cells are left unharmed.

Speaking to Controlled Environments, lead researcher Dr. Jérôme Kalifa noted: “The great thing about this treatment is that it’s precise down to the level of individual cells. Drugs spread all over the body and high-power lasers char the tissue in the heart. This treatment is much easier and much safer.”

The technology was developed by University of Michigan and the findings are published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The research is titled “Cell-selective arrhythmia ablation for photomodulation of heart rhythm.”

In similar news, scientists have used nanoparticles to eliminate blood clots in the form of a field kit to be carried by medics on reaching the scene of a suspected heart attack or stroke case.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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