Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia – and the world. It can manifest in many ways, including heart failure.
The global problem
In Australia, heart failure affects up to 2% of the population, with over 400 new cases diagnosed each week in NSW alone. In heart failure, the heart muscle is damaged, then becomes weak and unable to function properly. Damage can occur from a heart attack or long-term health conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
Very few donor hearts are available, and as heart transplant surgery is so invasive, many people suffering from heart failure are already too unwell or elderly to benefit from it. Effective treatment that can target damaged or failing heart muscle is desperately needed.
Nanoparticles – so tiny that a billion can fit on the head of a pin – hold great promise in medicine as carriers for drugs, imaging agents (to locate sites for treatment), and therapeutics for a wide range of diseases.
Nanoparticles can home to their targets better than conventional treatments, which reduces the amount of a drug needed, greatly improving safety
and efficiency. However, there are limitations with current nanoparticle technology, such as the high cost of synthesising the nanoparticles and its need for complex chemical reactions which can be damaging to the human body.
We have made a groundbreaking discovery – a new class of carbon nanoparticle (nanoP3) which overcomes many of the current nanoparticle limitations. NanoP3 can be quickly and inexpensively synthesised using high-energy plasma physics, and molecules can be bound to it in a process that eliminates the need for chemical reactions – meaning it is completely non-toxic. NanoP3 can also carry multiple molecules at once, such as those for treatment and those for targeting specific cells.
With our patented nanoP3, we can easily engineer nanocarriers tailor-made for the health needs of each person, such as nanoP3 that can carry heart failure treatment directly to the heart muscle. In addition, there are no limitations to which molecules can be bound to nanoP3, meaning the potential applications are also limitless, from improved ways to treat heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, through to more efficient gene therapies and beyond.
The next step
For nanoP3 to reach its full potential, we need to dramatically increase production to meet research and commercial development demands. As nanoP3 is synthesised using plasma technology, upscaling requires a unique, state-of-the-art plasma reactor that allows fine control over the physical and chemical properties of nanoP3, enabling it to be tailored for specific applications. This reactor will be the first in the world specifically designed for the sole purpose of creating plasma nanoparticles.
We seek funding to acquire the necessary components to engineer this dedicated plasma reactor. These components are estimated to total $80,000.
Successfully engineering our bespoke plasma reactor and substantially increasing our synthesis of nanoP3 will enable us to further develop nanoP3 into an effective platform for carrying treatment directly to a target site, eg, carrying treatment to the heart muscle to improve cardiac function and health for people with heart failure.
In the short term, we aim to make nanoP3 available as a research and development tool. This will allow us to establish a library of nanoP3 for a wide range of therapeutic applications, including cardiovascular disease and cancer treatment as well as gene therapy.
Ultimately, increasing our capacity to synthesise and develop nanoP3 will propel us forward in improving treatment for the major diseases of our time, delivering safer and more effective therapy options for the millions of sufferers around the world.
Become a patron of science
Our scientists rely on generous and far-sighted supporters to continue their vital research into cardiovascular disease – the world’s number one killer.
As a patron of science at the Heart Research Institute, you can directly support the research project closest to your heart, with your full donation going towards the project. You will also have the opportunity to attend exclusive events with our scientists and leadership team, and will receive regular updates on how your support has helped your research project break new ground.
For more information on how you can contribute to this exciting project, contact our Head of Philanthropy through the links below.