The organizations were selected as a collaborative "Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology" (PEN) by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As part of the NIH's strategy to accelerate progress in medical research through innovative technology and interdisciplinary research, cardiac disease was chosen as the focus of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's recently-established Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology.

The multi-organizational team will build "delivery vehicles" that can be used to transport drugs, imaging agents and nano-devices directly to locations where there is vulnerable plaque; design molecular nano-stents to physically stabilize vulnerable plaque and replace its fibrous cap with an anti-adhesive, anti-inflammatory surface; devise molecular switches that can sense and respond to the pathophysiology of atheroma (fatty deposits on arterial walls); and develop bio-nanoelectromechanical systems (called BioNEMS) that can sense and respond to vulnerable plaque, ultimately providing diagnostic and therapeutic capability.

"The Programs of Excellence in Nanotechnology is a vitally important research effort that will spur the development of novel technologies to diagnose and treat heart, lung, and blood diseases," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH. "The program brings together bioengineers, materials scientists, biologists, and physicians who will work in interdisciplinary teams. By taking advantage of the unique properties of materials at the nanoscale, these teams will devise creative solutions to medical problems," she said.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of California - Santa Barbara