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Stem Cells Bubble Up in X-rays

March 19, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Interventional Radiology
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A (human) interventional radiologist and a veterinary radiologist have developed alginate capsules that can transport bone marrow stem cells to a patient’s blood stream and aid in the treatment of peripheral arterial disease, and they can be seen and followed in X-rays.

Having tested their technique on animal models, they found that the X-ray-visible microbubbles made of seaweed better protect the stem cells from destruction, are more insightfully maneuvered, help to build plenty of new blood vessels and actually make the stem cells themselves visible, “much like the way a firefly’s light is visible at night,” according to study author Dara L. Kraitchman, VMD, PhD, as quoted in EurekAlert! Dr. Kraitchman is associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her research partner is Frank Wacker, MD, an interventional radiologist at Johns Hopkins.

Physicians could inject the cell bubbles in conjunction with a dye study and could repeat the procedure if necessary, similar to blood transfusions. And, like the blood in transfusions, the stem cells could safely come another, adult, donor.

“Bone marrow stem cells, which have the ability to renew themselves, could unlock the door to treat peripheral arterial disease with cell-based methods.” Dr. Wacker said. “They offer a future novel method to treat PAD patients. About 10 percent of the PAD patients cannot be treated with typical methods to reopen the arteries, such as angioplasty or stents.”

“We are continuing to test the treatment in animals and attempting to perfect methods using non-invasive imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound and blood pressure measurements, which could be used to follow up patients without exposing them to X-rays or needing to enter a blood vessel to inject dye to see the newly formed vessels,” Dr. Kraitchman said, as quoted in HealthImaging.com. “We are also fusing the X-ray imaging results with other imaging techniques, like MRI, to provide a better picture of where to place the stem cells.”

Related seminar: State-of-the-Art Imaging and Interventional Radiology

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