Researchers have discovered that in mice, an injection of microscopic tags made of a plastic-like polymer could help curb tissue damage after they suffer a heart attack.
They are hoping that it can one day help treat this and other problems in humans.
Stephen Miller at Northwestern University in Illinois and his team found a method to use microparticles made of the biodegradable polymer PLGA to tag these monocytes in mice, New Scientist reported.
The scientists triggered the monocytes to move away from inflamed sites to the spleen, where they are destroyed. It seems other immune cells are left unscathed.
One existing use for the microparticles - just 1/200th the width of a hair - is for laboratory imaging, to label and trace cells.