Thrombus-targeted theranostic microbubbles
Breaking down blood clots
Blood clots, or thrombosis as it is medically known, is responsible for the majority of heart attacks and strokes.
Currently, blood clots causing myocardial infarction or stroke can only be visualised and reliably diagnosed via catheters inserted into the arteries, a procedure that is only available in larger hospitals. This often results in a delay of diagnosis and results in heart or brain damage. In addition, the currently clinically available therapy for heart attack or stroke comes with a substantial risk of complications occurring - particularly bleeding problems.
Fortunately, this could change with research being funded by the Heart Foundation.
Researchers, Professor Karlheinz Peter and Dr Xiaowei Wang from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, have created particles that can detect clots and break them down within minutes.
They have developed 'intelligent microbubbles', which after injection into the veins, finds the clot, becomes attached to it, and then releases a drug to break it down. In addition, by using these microbubbles, doctors will be able to directly see the clot and thus monitor the success or failure of the clot-busting microbubbles on a regular, generally available ultrasound machine.
Dr Wang says there are several advantages to the ultrasound microbubble. It is non-invasive, carries no radiation-associated risks and has no side-effects such as an increased bleeding risk. Ultrasound scanners are also available in all hospitals and most outpatient clinics in Australia, therefore providing a safe, rapid and cost-effective technique for the detection of blood clots.
The microbubble she has developed will improve patient treatment and save lives and will also prevent bleeding in patients.
Dr Wang’s research has attracted significant attention, been presented at major cardiovascular international conferences and published in major international journals.