• The technology is been developed at the Advanced Center for Chronic Diseases (ACCDiS)

Scientist design nanocarriers to transport therapy to the heart

  • Research is led by Dr. Marcelo Kogan, academic of the Universidad de Chile and principal investigator of the ACCDiS Center.
  • Minuscule particles will allow the controlled release of a molecule that gives protection to this organ, and it is capable to battle hypertension and other cardiac diseases.
  • Lipids, iron, and gold are some of the materials tested in experimental models.

The design of nanocarriers traveling the blood stream, with the aim to transport a therapy to the heart, is being developed by researchers at the Advanced Center for Chronic Diseases, ACCDiS. These minuscule particles, elaborated by Dr. Marcelo Kogan and a specialist team, seek to give protection to this vital organ and to battle arterial hypertension, as also other diseases, such as cardiac hypertrophy, which could result in serious consequences.

The scientists are elaborating technology at a small scale with different materials, such as lipids, and metals as iron and gold, aiming to guarantee efficiency and security of the treatment in the organism. Imperceptible to the human eye, these nanostructures aim to be the carrier of the peptide Angiotensin 1-9, molecule widely studied by other ACCDiS researchers, showing important cardioprotective and anti-hypertensive effects in experimental models.

To contribute to the knowledge and development of applications in this specific field is crucial for the ACCDiS Center. These type of pathologies, considering the high frequency of cardiovascular diseases, are also the first death cause in the world.

Therapeutic carrier

Angiotensin 1-9 – mainly investigated by Dr. Sergio Lavandero, Dr. Maria Paz Ocaranza and Dr. Mario Chiong – application does not only allow to protect the heart and to reduce arterial pressure but also, it could be used as a treatment for fibrosis and hypertrophy – increase of heart’s size, which can cause contractile and functionality loss-.

“This peptide is a great therapeutic agent, but if we want to give it pharmacological use, it would be needed very high concentrations of the peptide to administer it to patients, because it degrades rapidly in the blood stream. This problem involves that patients must receive angiotensin, as an example, by infusions. Nevertheless, nanotechnology can generate a systemic and safe release system in the blood stream that allows taking the beneficial effects of the peptide to the cardiac zone in adequate doses”, explained Dr. Marcelo Kogan, from the Universidad de Chile.

Dr. Julian Bejarano, associate researcher of ACCDiS, also refers to the objectives of this study: ”We wanted to generate, by using nanoparticles, a carrier that allows to protect angiotensin 1-9 and also to be able to release it in a controlled way in the myocardium, but not other areas of the organism”

The research – in which also participates Dr. Francisco Morales – is already using experimental cell and animal models with cardiac damage. The obtained results keep optimist to the scientists, which expect to obtain favorable results in the next six months. “If we successfully finish the preclinical trials and are able to go through the other stages, it will be crucial to have more funding and to establish alliances with other pharmaceutical laboratories”, added Dr. Kogan.

¿How they aim to administer this therapy to the organism? Scientists still have to analyze if these nanoparticles will be administered orally or by an injection.

Spheres, lipids, and gold

Julián Bejarano, specialist in materials and engineering, is developing strategies to favor a directed and controlled release of this therapeutic peptide. One of them is the use of liposomes, structures that have shown safety in other pharmaceutical applications.

“A liposome is a spheric vesicle, composed of lipids that have a head and a tail, forming bilayers. In our case, we are investigating the use of thermosensitive liposomes and we believe that angiotensin could be encapsulated in the liposome, while at the surface, we would like to couple it to gold nanoparticles or nanoceras. All of this to help in the peptide release by using heat, enhancing cardiac function”, pointed out Bejarano, scientist of Columbian origin.

Francisco Morales also explores different methods to achieve a correct administration of the peptide. In this context, one of the techniques used in his project is to modify the molecule itself to make it more resistant and to increase its circulation time in the organism.

“Taking advantage of the physical properties of the particles and their different components, we could think them as a sort of NanoLego, in which we have pieces to fit to achieve different objectives. In this case, our goal is to target the particles directly to the heart”, noted Morales. “If this method is validated, the studies could also be useful for the treatment of other diseases”, considered Francisco Morales.

Peptide benefits

Angiotensin 1-9 is a circulating small peptide of nine amino acids. Its function was discovered the year 2008 by studying animal models with cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. In that moment, Dr. Maria Paz Ocaranza, from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and together with her research team, described a decrease of the concentration of the molecule. Additionally, they described that the exogenic administration of the peptide produced a decrease in arterial pressure and enhanced cardiac function.

Under this context, Dr. Francisco Morales points several benefits in the use and study of Angiotensin 1-9. “This is a natural peptide produced by the human organism, therefore it favors that the use of the peptide does not generate counter indications. On the other hand, the molecule is very interesting as a biomarker of cardiac risk. To measure the peptide levels will allow knowing if the patient has (or not) cardiovascular risk, facilitating also the diagnose of cardiac diseases”, explains Morales.

(By Carolina Todorovic, Agencia Inés Llambías Comunicaciones).

Noticia Replicada en:

El Mostrador: http://www.elmostrador.cl/vida-en-linea/2017/07/31/cientificos-disenan-nanovehiculos-para-transportar-terapia-al-corazon/