Tiny capsules seek out and destroy blood clots

18th August 2015

Researchers are treating strokes by sending tiny capsules of clot-busting drugs that seek out and attack the clot.

The drug-carrying capsules are coated with an antibody that targets life-threatening blood clots that have caused a stroke or heart attack. Once the capsule arrives at the clot it breaks open, releasing the thrombolytic drug exactly where it is needed.

The capsules are injected intravenously and the drugs break up or dissolve the clot.

"We are effectively hijacking the blood clotting system to initiate the removal of the blockage in the blood vessel," said Dr Christoph Hagemeyer, head of the vascular biotechnology laboratory at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia.

The project uses nanotechnology, a branch of technology that deals with miniscule dimensions and tolerances, including the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.

Dr Hagemeyer said: “The nanocapsules are directed to the clot by an antibody fragment on the surface targeting activated platelets which are the main component of arterial thrombi.”

He added that the technology would make "a revolutionary difference" in heart attack and stroke treatment, and said that emergency staff could administer the nanocapsules in the field.

Scientists have been using nanotechnology to battle some of the biggest health risks, including heart disease and cancer.