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Home > Press > High on Nano: Cannabinoid Nanoparticles to Treat the Primary Cause of Heart Attack and Stroke

Only two years ago an American-Dutch research effort was the first trialling nanotherapy in cardiovascular patients. Since then they took some remarkable steps towards the use of a combination of endogenous nanoparticles and cannabinoids to treat atherosclerosis. Ground-breaking projects demand innovative ways to create publicity and gather funding. The non-profit organization High on Nano aims to crowd fund a documentary about this topic to support the research.

High on Nano: Cannabinoid Nanoparticles to Treat the Primary Cause of Heart Attack and Stroke

Amsterdam, Netherlands | Posted on December 4th, 2013

The development of nanotechnologies to encapsulate drugs in tiny nanoparticles has witnessed tremendous growth in the last two decades. These nanoparticles are designed for accurate delivery of imaging agents and/or drugs at diseased sites, increasing precision hits while hopefully lowering side effects. Unfortunately the large amount of promising research projects -mainly focusing on oncologic targets- only reported limited clinical successes so far.

For the exploration of nanotechnology in cardiovascular medicine the Dutch chemist Willem Mulder founded the Nanomedicine Laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2006. The nanoparticle platforms his team develops are designed to specifically target atherosclerotic plaques, the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease. In cooperation with the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam the first-in-man trials with synthetic nanoparticles were initiated already in 2011. In preclinical studies the exploitation of endogenous nanoparticles has shown promise in the context of cardiovascular disease, as such nanoparticles exhibit a natural affinity for atherosclerotic plaques. These particles create an attractive and natural drug delivery platform for atherosclerotic targets.

One of the potent anti-atherosclerotic drug classes they investigate is cannabinoids. In 2005 a seminal study published in the journal Nature demonstrated that low dose oral cannabinoid therapy reduces the progression of atherosclerosis in mice. However, research activity in this area has been relatively subdued. This may be -in part- attributed to psychotropic side effects, and poor specificity and bioavailability of orally administered cannabinoids. To overcome these limitations, nanoparticle formulations may offer an attractive alternative.

Atherosclerosis is also known as ‘hardening' of the arteries. It is a result of genetics, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking cigarettes. It is a common underlying cause of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke, and represents the highest expenditure of the world health care (app €198 billion in EU and $300 billion in the US).

Every year about 1,3 million people die from cardiovascular disease in the US and 1,6 million in Europe.

In patients who suffered a heart attack the recurrence risk of an acute coronary syndrome is high, particularly within the first three years when recurrence rates are up to over 20%.

The Dutch Non-profit organization High on Nano was founded on October 28th. Their goal is to popularise the work of Willem Mulder and his teams by developing a documentary (series) about his work.


To support this project, non-profit organization High on Nano was recently founded. Their aim is to familiarize the general public with this exciting field and establish innovative mechanisms to help fund the research. The first step is crowd funding a documentary to show the world what is going on in the field of 21st century nanomedicine. They hope this process, and the resulting publicity, ultimately open up ways to fund part of the research.

For more information, please click here

Gert van Kempen
Non-profit Organization High on Nano

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