JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Researchers in Israel are developing a new technique for administering drugs that could help prevent heart attacks after angioplasty to clear clogged arteries, a research institute said.
The Technion Institute said the method, which may not be available for several years, might eventually be used in other cases where drugs need to be targeted precisely.
The aim in angioplasty patients is to target swellings of tissue that can form around stents, small tubes inserted to keep blood vessels open after the procedure. Such clogs form in over one third of patients with stents in coronary arteries.
The new technique involves administering a pill containing a "prodrug", which is only activated when it comes in contact with a specific enzyme attached to the stent.
A precise amount of the drug is delivered to exactly the point it is needed.
The current procedure of delivering the drugs directly from the stent does not allow a very controlled release of the medication.
Over 1.2 million angioplasties were carried out in the United States in 2003. The intervention involves using a catheter to open narrowed arteries.
Scientists at the Technion said the new technique could eventually be used to treat other medical problems.
"It has potential applications for every drug known today or invented in the future," lead researcher Noah Lotan said in a statement. "(It) could be useful for medications, including chemotherapy drugs, best administered to one very specific location in the body."
The pill alone is harmless and treatment can be stopped when there is no further risk of clogging, Lotan said.
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