UChicago research shows promise for treating heart, vascular disease

A new targeted nanomedicine treatment developed at the University of Chicago has shown promise in reducing vascular damage caused by atherosclerosis in mice.

The research, a collaboration between Matthew Tirrell, dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and Assoc. Prof. Yun Fang in the Biological Sciences Division, could ultimately lead to better treatments for humans who suffer from complications of vascular disease.

“We are really enthusiastic about this technology,” Tirrell said. “It directly targets the site of the inflammation and could have implications in a variety of vascular disorders.”

Delivering medicine directly to inflamed cells

In vascular diseases like atherosclerosis, the walls of arteries thicken and harden, which disturbs blood flow. That leads to a buildup of plaque, which could ultimately lead to blocked arteries.

Studies have linked a molecule called microRNA-92a to dysfunction of the endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels. While a microRNA-92a inhibitor treatment exists (and has been tested in animals and humans), it cannot yet be delivered directly to the blood vessel site, and therefore is not as effective as it could be.