09 January 2009

Synthetic HDL Cholesterol Sponge: Nanotechnology Making Cholesterol Safer

The nano-synthesis of biologically active molecules has a huge future in biomedicine. One example of such a synthetic biomolecule is synthetic HDL cholesterol, recently synthesised by Northwestern University scientists.
The researchers successfully designed synthetic HDL and show that their nanotechnology version is capable of irreversibly binding cholesterol. The synthetic HDL, based on gold nanoparticles, is similar in size to HDL and mimics HDL’s general surface composition. The study is published online by the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).

“We have designed and built a cholesterol sponge. The synthetic HDL features the basics of what a great cholesterol drug should be,” said Chad A. Mirkin, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, professor of medicine and professor of materials science and engineering. Mirkin and Shad Thaxton, M.D., assistant professor of urology in Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, led the study. _Nanowerk
A previous use of synthetic HDL cholesterol is as a tracer molecule, to identify atherosclerotic plaque inside arterial lining. Tagging the synthetic HDL with likely MRI contrast agents such as gadolinium allowed for the rapid location and size estimate of cholesterol plaques.
"It's like a smart bomb that goes directly to the plaque," says Fayad. "We were able to see plaque in high contrast."

In their images, the team also detected accumulations of macrophages--killer cells that invade areas of injury or inflammation such as plaque buildup. These macrophages secrete enzymes that Fayad says "eat up" plaque, making it unstable and more likely to rupture, which in turn could lead to heart attacks. Being able to detect these cells early on could help identify people at high risk of heart disease, as well as help develop treatments and lifestyle changes before their condition worsens. _Medgadget
More on using nano-synthetic HDL to aid in diagnostic testing for atherosclerosis here.

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Blogger Unknown said...

"These macrophages secrete enzymes that Fayad says "eat up" plaque, making it unstable and more likely to rupture, which in turn could lead to heart attacks."

If some people have these macrophages, why don't they attack the plaque as soon as the first bare traces of plaque starts building? Is there not enough inflammation yet? That shouldn't cause heart attacks, right?
If I am right about that, then is there a way to make these macrophages go hyper-active before too much builds up?

Sunday, 11 January, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

The bio-science of cholesterol is somewhat akin to Global Warming science. Everyone knows cholesterol is bad for you and you need to get it low to live well and long... except that's not true at all. In fact, there are some people who have very high levels of cholesterol without adverse effects: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=371523

The biggest consumer of cholesterol in the body is the brain. Low levels can create anxiety, anger, and stupid behavior. The "normal" ranges were based on "kentucky windage" estimates... and were used to justify the need for statin drugs. Low to mid-200s is a reasonable and healthy range, not 150-180. Some people strive for below 150 based on their fear of heart disease from cholesterol. At that level, a person's immune system may be compromised and lead to a higher risk of cancer.

Anecdotally, my father was always proud of his 120 cholesterol level. It didn't matter that he had several bouts of cancer and heart disease... or that he had a hair-trigger temper. Again, anecdotally, my mother has had cholesterol levels in excess of 400 and is somehow managing to be the Wii bowling champ of her retirement commmunity at the age of 91.

The only type of cholesterol that is a problem is the high-density, small particle type which can aggregate. The large diameter, softer type is beneficial. A VAP test can determine the mix of cholesterol in your body. http://search.lef.org/cgi-src-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=0&page_id=4715&query=vap%20test&hiword=TESTA%20TESTABLE%20TESTE%20TESTED%20TESTER%20TESTERS%20TESTES%20TESTING%20TESTIS%20TESTO%20TESTOS%20TESTS%20test%20vap

Furthermore, the primary dietary culprits in our diets are carbohydrates, most notably wheat and sugars. These create inflammation in the body and that is what causes arterial blockages, joint problems, and a host of other issues. Check for high C-reactive protein and homocysteine levels. Cholesteral is a red herring.

A vegetarian diet is not necessarily a godsend either. It can cause feminization of young boys. The best overall diet is one that mixes fats, protein, and fibre... similar to the Atkins diet... and similar to our pre-agricultural ancestors. Lots of vegetables, meats, cheeses, and eggs. Ironically, eating foods containing cholesterol tends to shut down the body's own production and excessive limits.

So... while macrophages may eat up plaque, blaming cholesterol is like blaming CO2 for changes in our climate.

Monday, 12 January, 2009  

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