Making it Stick: Therapeutics Cling to a Blood Vessel

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In this image, captured by Christian Kastrup of the Langer and Anderson Labs at the Koch Institute, nanoparticles and microparticles (green and purple) have been coated on a blood vessel wall as a potential treatment for cardiovascular disease.

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Christian Kastrup
Langer and Anderson Labs, Koch Institute
Epi-fluorescence Micrograph

Treatment of diseases in the high-traffic environment of blood vessels can be very difficult; drugs often flow right past sites of disease like tumors and fail to have any effect.

Christian Kastrup and Daniel Anderson have a unique strategy to overcome this problem: stickiness.   Here, they have loaded therapeutic nanoparticles (green) and microparticles (purple) into a sticky hydrogel and "painted" the hydrogel onto a blood vessel wall using a tiny catheter.  The stickiness of the hydrogel anchors the particles to the blood vessel wall so that they are not washed away by blood flow.  In a patient, such nanoparticles could be pre-loaded with therapies that would slowly release into a site of disease such as an atherosclerotic plaque or a tumor.

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Christian Kastrup explains how and why he captured this image of therapeutics in a blood vessel.