Vascular Glue

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Science  11 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6116, pp. 121
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6116.121-c

Atherosclerosis is characterized by the accumulation of plaque—lipid-laden inflammatory cells surrounded by a fibrous cap—in the inner lining of blood vessels. In so-called vulnerable plaques, the fibrous cap is at high risk of rupture, an event that results in blood clots that can potentially trigger a heart attack or stroke. The development of strategies that can stabilize and/or heal vulnerable plaques is a major goal of cardiovascular research.

Inspired by the properties of underwater adhesives secreted by marine mussels, Kastrup et al. designed an adhesive hydrogel that can be painted on atherosclerotic plaques, with the idea that this “glue” might be useful both for localized deposition of drugs and for strengthening the fibrous cap to prevent its rupture. In a proof-of-concept study, gel containing dexamethasone, an antiinflammatory drug, was applied via a catheter to inflamed atherosclerotic plaques in the carotid arteries of mice. The gel remained adherent for over a month, and the plaque in the gel-treated mice displayed a thicker fibrous cap and a 25% reduction in a marker of inflammatory cells as compared with plaques in control mice.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1217972110 (2012)

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