And could prevent new ones from forming.
Thrombolysis, commonly called clot busting, is a treatment to dissolve dangerous clots in blood vessels to improve flow and prevent damage to tissue and organs.
In emergency situations caused by thrombosis, or the formation of blood clots, doctors often turn to thrombolytic drugs — specific enzymes injected intravenously to dissolve the clots.
However, these treatments aren’t without complications. The problem is that thrombolytic drugs spread over the whole circulatory system instead of just targeting the clot. The drugs are injected in “knock-out doses.”
"Now we are using a sledge-hammer to crack a nut", Ivan Dudanov, head of the regional cardiovascular center of Mariinsky Hospital, said in a press release. "Dissolving a little blood clot that blocked a vessel of only 1-2 mm in diameter, thrombolytic drugs negatively affect the entire network of blood vessels.”
To help solve the problem, scientists from ITMO University and Mariinsky Hospital in Saint Petersburg developed a method of targeted drug delivery that reduces the dosage and makes sure the treatment is focused solely on the clot.
Impressively, they developed a magnetically-controlled drug that can be condensed on a blood clot via a magnetic field, and it can dissolve clots up to 4,000 times more efficiently than conventional enzyme-based drugs.
The new material is composed of a porous magnetite framework and molecules of urokinase, which is an enzyme commonly used in thrombolytic medicines. Plus, this magnetite framework protects enzymes from some inhibitors in the blood that can deactivate the anti-clotting medications.
Even further, Dudanov says that future drugs based on the new composite could also be used for thrombosis prevention. Even in small amounts, the enzyme can circulate in the blood and gently clean the vessels, and it can stay active until it’s naturally excreted through the liver like a regular metabolite.
In this phase of the research, the scientists have tested the effects of the magnetite drug on artificial blood clots obtained from the plasma and blood of humans, as well as human thrombus (blood clots) extracted from patients.
However, even though it hasn’t yet been tested in humans, the researchers speculate that the material is safe because it’s comprised of components that have already been approved for intravenous injection.
“The results may soon allow us to try out the new thrombolytic system on mammals. Now we are preparing for preclinical studies," concludes Vladimir Vinogradov, head of the Laboratory of Solution Chemistry of Advanced Materials and Technologies.
The research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
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