The study describes the effects/usage of the drug and its delivery mechanisms. Research shows that the drug is also an effective treatment for heart attacks in animals. 

“Unfortunately, current antiplatelet medications prevent the blood clotting that causes heart attack and stroke but also disrupt platelets’ ability to stop bleeding if a blood vessel is torn,” said study researcher Xiaoping Du from the University of Illinois in the US.

“The magic of this new drug is it prevents clots but does not make people prone to bleeding, which other drugs have failed to do,” Du added.

In an earlier study, researchers identified a signaling mechanism that is important in the process of blood clotting, however, it is not required for platelets’ ability to adhere to a wound and prevent bleeding. Based on this finding, the research team derived a peptide to target the signaling mechanism and designed a nanoparticle that successfully delivered the peptide into platelets.

The peptide-derived nanoparticle drug was called M3mP6 – high-loading peptide nanoparticle, of HLPN — This drug was tested on mice as a possible treatment for heart attacks. Du shared that a heart attack can cause heart failure and death in two different ways. Either from the initial damage caused by the blood clot, which reduces oxygen supply as the blood flow is blocked. 

This is typically treated by a procedure called angioplasty when a stent to open the artery is combined with antiplatelet drugs to prevent it from clotting again. However, this can trigger inflammation, causing leaks and clots in small blood vessels and further damage to the heart, as fresh blood can flow into the damaged heart tissue once the artery is reopened,  the researchers said.

“This is called reperfusion injury and this is the second way a heart attack can lead to heart failure or death,” Du said. The study found that among the mice that received the treatment,  administered as an injection, there was reduced damage to the heart, reduced clotting, and reduced inflammation. Adding to that there also was improved heart function and improved survival 

“It is very exciting to see such promising results in the lab and we hope to one day test this in humans,” Du said. “We were hopeful that this new drug, which does not cause blood vessel leaks, would help limit reperfusion injury and reduce the chance of heart failure and death,” the study authors wrote.