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Researchers develop new contrast agent for better MR detection of heart disease

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | December 18, 2017
Cardiology Heart Disease MRI
A nanoparticle-based contrast agent
may detect inflammation to better predict
heart disease
Researchers at SUNY Binghamton and Temple University have co-developed a new MR imaging technology for detecting inflammation, to more accurately predict the presence of heart disease.

The nanoparticle-based contrast agent, when injected, may enable physicians to find signs of inflammation that could point to heart disease. The study, titled "Activatable interpolymer complex-superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles as magnetic resonance contrast agents sensitive to oxidative stress," was published in the journal, Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.

"It can theoretically be injected and, when activated, we can actually see areas of inflammation on the MR scan," Amber Doiron, a research assistant professor in the biomedical engineering department at Binghamton University, said in a statement.
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The risks of heart disease are often assessed through factors such as blood pressure or cholesterol level, and then through the plaque size as a general source of measurement. Plaque sizes and the risk of stroke or heart attack share a poor correlation, however.

The nanoparticle can detect inflammation related to this condition as well as others, including asthma, allergies, transplant rejections and hepatitis.

"Any inflammatory disease could be detected in this way," said Doiron in reference to the potential of the contrast agent.

The development of contrast agents is a common feat undertaken for assessing and treating various conditions. A recent example is one developed by Massachusetts General Hospital staff as an alternative to gadolinium, and another by researchers at Case Western University in Cleveland for one that distinguishes between aggressive and slow-growing, low-risk types of breast cancer.

Research was funded through a two-year grant of $418,000 from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Doiron did not return calls for response.

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