In thier quest to develop nanosensors for early detection of plaque build-up in the arteries, researchers from the department of chemistry have hit upon an even bigger advancement:
Early detection of cellular components in the plaque that rupture and block arteries have long been held as potentially effective detection for heart diseases and their link to atherosclerosis.
A new study by University of Georgia researchers in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of chemistry, published online May 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents a technological breakthrough: Synthetic high density lipoprotein nanoparticles. A completely biodegradable synthetic version of the so-called good cholesterol, the nanoparticles represent a potential new detection and therapy regimen for atherosclerosis.
In the process of developing a nanoparticle sensor to detect unstable cellular components in atherosclerotic lesions, study coauthors assistant professor Shanta Dhar and graduate student Sean Marrache constructed the lipoprotein nanoparticle in Dhar's NanoTherapeutics Research Laboratory. In bench-scale animal trials, the synthetic HDL-mimicking nanoparticle showed significant reductions in total cholesterol and triglycerides.
"In creating all the processes for the nanoparticle to mimic the natural HDL and carry a signaling output, we were able to demonstrate excellent biocompatibility," Dhar said. "If we simply leave out the sensor, we have a very promising therapy for triglyceride reduction in the bloodstream."
Huge congratulations to Dhar and Marrache for this work. A new manufacturing process for completely synthetic HDL has very wide implications for human health, but the advances seen in Nanomedicine in just the last decade alone should help grow the support for this kind of research (and instruction) at universities around the world. That's how we get advances like this.
Image: Shanta Dhar, right, and Sean Marrache work in Dhar's NanoTherapeutics Research Laboratory at UGA, courtesy of UGA photographic services.