If Regular Aspirin Does Not Help You, This Kind Might
Aspirin has been available for more than a century, and millions of people take it to reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack as well as for headaches and other types of pain. However, if regular aspirin does not help you because you are resistant to the drug, then a new form of aspirin just developed may be an effective alternative.
Why people take aspirin
Although researchers have developed other, newer drugs that help prevent blood clots (which is why reportedly 60 million people in the US take aspirin), the old favorite continues to be the most commonly used antiplatelet agent around the world to help prevent cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), and there’s evidence it may also help reduce cancer risk. Like all medications, however, there are risks associated with taking the drug, and in the case of aspirin there’s the chance of stomach bleeding, hearing loss, and microbleeds among older adults.
Low doses of aspirin (typically 82 mg or more, based on individual needs) are often recommended by physicians to their patients to help prevent blood clots and thus the risk of stroke and heart attack. Aspirin is also recommended following cardiovascular surgery to prevent blood clots.
Some people, however, are resistant to regular aspirin, and they do not respond to the drug in positive ways. As a result, some aspirin nonresponders who need to take an antiplatelet substance turn to expensive prescription drugs that can be associated with serious side effects.
How to tackle aspirin resistance
To address the problem of aspirin resistance, scientists at Capital Medical University in Beijing made changes to regular aspirin to create a form they hoped would be effective in those who currently cannot benefit from regular aspirin. Thus far, the experiments have been conducted in lab animals only, but the results have been positive.
Their work involves the use of nanoparticles, extremely small particles that are between 1 nanometer and 100 nanometers in size. How small is this? It would take 800 particles that are 100 nanometers each, positioned side by side, to equal the width of one human hair.
The scientists bound aspirin to a nanoparticle, a piece of protein (Arg-Gly-Asp-Val, or A-RGDV) that carried the drug directly to damaged areas of blood vessels where dangerous clots formed. Once the aspirin was released, it stopped the clot from developing in rat models.
Since the new form of aspirin has been tested in animals only, further research and testing are needed before we can hope to see this product on the market.
Jin S et al. Nanosized aspirin Arg-Gly-Asp Val: delivery of aspirin to thrombus by the target carrier Arg-Gly-Asp Val tetrapeptide. ACS Nano 2013 August. DOI:10.1021/nn402171v
Mansour K et al. Aspirin resistance. Advances in Hematology 2009; 2009:937352