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Clinical Implications of Basic Neuroscience Research
January 2015

Targeted Drug Delivery to Flow-Obstructed Blood Vessels Using Mechanically Activated Nanotherapeutics

Author Affiliations
  • 1Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2New England Center for Stroke Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
  • 3Department of Radiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
  • 4Vascular Biology Program, Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 5School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
JAMA Neurol. 2015;72(1):119-122. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.2886

Obstruction of normal blood flow, which occurs in a variety of diseases, including thromboembolism in stroke and atherosclerosis, is a leading cause of death and long-term adult disability in the Western world. This review focuses on a novel nanotherapeutic drug-delivery platform that is mechanically activated within blood vessels by high-fluid shear stresses to selectively target drugs to sites of vascular obstruction. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that this approach can be used to efficiently lyse clots using a significantly lower amount of thrombolytic drug than is required when administered in a soluble formulation. This nanotherapeutic strategy can potentially improve both the efficacy and safety of thrombolytic drugs, particularly in patients who are at high risk for brain hemorrhage, and thus provide a new approach for the treatment of many life-threatening and debilitating vascular disorders.