New artery imaging technique
Posted on 28/02/2011
A human heart
A team of scientists and clinicians across King’s Health Partners together with Lantheus Medical Imaging, Inc. have developed an exciting non-invasive imaging technique which tracks the build up of plaque in arteries, the main cause of cardiovascular disease leading to heart attack and stroke.
The new research by Makowski et al. published in Nature Medicine this week reports that a technique using Elastin-Specific Magnetic Resonance Contrast Agent (ESMA) is a step towards developing a painless, non invasive way to identify people who may be at risk of coronary heart disease before they show any symptoms. Current invasive procedures either fail to visualize the artery walls (such as X-ray) or risk damaging artery walls (for example, intravascular ultrasound).
The study which took two years and was funded by the British Heart Foundation, investigated the build up of plaque in mice arteries. The imaging works by using non-invasive radiation free MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to identify the protein elastin which is abundant in artery walls. The contrast agent is first injected into the vein and then MRI makes the protein visible without exposing the animal to harmful radiation or requiring invasive catheterisation. As elastin production is increased during plaque development the ESMA technique clearly highlights the diseased sections of artery walls.
Professor Rene Botnar, who lead the research said: 'The potential for this research to be translated from the laboratory into clinical practice is very exciting and we hope to develop a strategy together with our industrial partner, Lantheus Medical Imaging, to earlier identify patients with heart disease and to make them aware of their problem before they have a heart attack or stroke. Although there is still work to do before this imaging technique can be used in patients, in the future it could offer a better way to investigate the risk of large numbers of patients developing heart disease without subjecting them to X-ray radiation or an invasive procedure.
'Combined with conventional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension or high cholesterol, assessing plaque burden in this way could allow clinicians to make a more accurate decision about how to treat their patient best – for example choosing to suggest lifestyle changes or adapting their medical treatment.'
The study was a collaboration of clinical and research expertise involving scientists and clinicians based at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre. The imaging work was carried out in the Medical Engineering Centre at King's College London, which is funded by a partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2010 QS international world rankings), The Sunday Times 'University of the Year 2010/11' and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,000 students (of whom more than 8,600 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 5,500 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate. 'University of the Year 2010/11' and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,000 students (of whom more than 8,600 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 5,500 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
For further information please contact Emma Reynolds, Press Officer at King’s College London, on 0207 848 4334 or email email@example.com