Emory Report
December 7, 2009
Volume 62, Number 13



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December 7, 2009
Tiny particles can deliver antioxidant enzyme to injured heart cells

By Quinn Eastman

Microscopic polymer beads can deliver an antioxidant enzyme made naturally by the body into the heart, Emory and Georgia Tech researchers have shown.

Injecting the enzyme-containing particles into rats' hearts after a simulated heart attack reduced the number of dying cells and resulted in improved heart function days later.

Biomedical engineer Michael Davis presented his group’s recent results Nov. 15 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting in Orlando.

The particles, which break down into nontoxic components in the body, are made of a material called polyketals, developed by Niren Murthy at Georgia Tech. Davis, Murthy and their colleagues have also used the polyketals to encase anti-inflammatory drugs.

The enzyme in the particles, called superoxide dismutase (SOD), soaks up toxic free radicals produced when cells are deprived of blood during a heart attack. Previously scientists have tried injecting SOD by itself into injured animals, but it doesn't seem to last long enough in the body to have any beneficial effects.

"Our goal is to have a therapy to blunt the permanent damage of a heart attack and reduce the probability of heart failure later in life," Davis says. "This is a way to get extra amounts of a beneficial antioxidant protein to the cells that need it."