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New Imaging Agent Created For CT Heart Scans

May 2, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Cardiac Imaging, Diagnostic Imaging
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Nanotechnology is leading to new generations of imaging contrast agents. Most recently, Korean scientists said they’ve developed a process for making a safe, relatively inexpensive nanoparticle imaging agent for CT scans of the heart and lymph nodes.

Actually, the researchers said the new agent lasts long enough in the body to enable imaging of many different organs. And studies on rats have found that, according to the researchers’ article in the April 13 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, it “did not affect normal functioning of organs.”

Other imaging nanoparticles have used expensive materials, such as gold, or toxic substances, such as bismuth. The Korean imaging agent uses inexpensive, safe tantalum oxide. The researchers said it “exhibited remarkable performances” in CT angiography and image-guided lymph-node mapping in rats.

As DOTmed News points out, other nanoparticle imaging agents are also being developed. In February, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported that they had designed nanoparticles that find blood clots and make them visible to a new type of CT scanner that can “see” metals in color.

The metal they used is bismuth, a heavy metal that is, as mentioned, toxic. So the researchers used a compound made of bismuth atoms attached to fatty acid chains that can’t come apart in the body and can be introduced safely.

A molecule added to the nanoparticles’ surface seeks out a protein called fibrin, which is common in blood clots but is not found elsewhere in blood vessels. Spectral CT creates an image in which the fibrin in any blood clots will show up in a color, eliminating the problem of calcium interference that comes into play with traditional CT scanners.

Said Gregory Lanza, MD, PhD, a Washington University cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital:

If you’re having a heart attack, the lining of your coronary artery has ruptured, and a clot is forming to repair it. But that clot is starting to narrow the vessel so blood can’t get by. Now we have a nanoparticle that will see that clot.

Dr. Lanza, who is also a Washington University professor of medicine, was quoted in a university news release.

The university’s spectral CT scanner is a prototype developed by Philips Research in Hamburg, Germany.

Related seminar: Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Imaging (prerelease; all new)

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