Technology: Vascular Magnetic Intervention
Lead researcher: Robert J. Levy, MD, the William J. Rashkind endowed chair in pediatric cardiology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Levy's group collaborated with engineers and scientists from Drexel University, Northeastern University, and Duke University.
Purpose: A platform technology that delivers drugs and other agents to specific sites in diseased or injured blood vessels in patients with vascular disease. It builds on an existing medical technology, catheter-deployed stents.
How it works: Uniform magnetic fields drive iron-bearing nanoparticles to metal stents in injured blood vessels, where the particles deliver a drug payload that prevents blockages in those vessels. The nanoparticles are impregnated with magnetite, which responds strongly to a magnetic field.
Potential improvement: Current drug-eluting stents contain a fixed dose of medication, good for just one release. But reobstruction occurs in a significant number of patients. The magnetically guided system could deliver higher doses and additional doses if problems recur.
Evidence: Researchers implanted stainless steel stents into the carotid arteries of live rats. After injecting paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles into the arteries through a catheter, they produced a uniform magnetic field around each rat for five minutes, magnetizing both the stents and the nanoparticles and driving the particles into the stents and the nearby arterial tissue. Five days later, the first group had four to 10 times as many particles in their stented arteries as the control group.
What's next: Clinical application is at least a few years away. Ultimately, the process could be used to deliver therapy via DNA, cells, and drugs.