Tiny magnetic particles may help assess heart treatments

July 10, 2012, American Heart Association

Tiny magnetic particles may help doctors track cells in the body to better determine if treatments work, according to research reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, an American Heart Association journal.

Researchers showed that injecting containing into the bloodstream was safe and did not interfere with cell function. (MRI) scans can then track the cells moving through the body.

"This could change how we assess new treatments affecting inflammation and the outcome of a heart attack or heart failure," said Jennifer Richards, M.D., lead author and vascular surgeon at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cardiovascular Science in Scotland.

With , doctors can adapt to fight disease. But when developing these therapies, it's hard to tell exactly where cells go and how many go where they are supposed to. Safely tracking them would help scientists better understand how new therapies combat heart disease.

Other tracing methods expose patients to excess radiation or only allow cells to be tracked for a few hours. But MRI scans use no radiation, and cells containing the particles can be monitored for at least a week.

Using test tubes, Richards' team first determined that magnetically labeled blood cells move and thrive like normal ones.

Then, they did four small-scale tests in humans:

  • Six people were successfully given three thigh muscle injections of unlabeled cells, magnetically labeled cells, and an injection of just the magnetic material. The labeled cells were traceable up to seven days later.
  • Two people were given six increasingly larger doses of magnetically labeled blood cells through a vein, and they had no negative effects.
  • 12 people got intravenous injections of the labeled blood cells – six getting a high dose and six a low dose – which were traceable by MRI a week later.
  • To test how well the cells travel to inflammation sites, one person was injected with the labeled blood cells, which were successfully followed by an MRI as the cells moved to an inflamed area of skin on the thigh. "This demonstrates that this method may be useful to facilitate the development of cell-based therapies in the future," Richards said.
Richards said more human tests are needed before researchers can regularly use magnetically labeled cells.

Explore further: Researchers develop a way to monitor engineered blood vessels as they grow in patients

Related Stories

Researchers develop a way to monitor engineered blood vessels as they grow in patients

November 30, 2011
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nanoparticle technology, researchers from Yale have devised a way to monitor the growth of laboratory-engineered blood vessels after they have been implanted in patients. This advance ...

Recommended for you

Researchers borrow from AIDS playbook to tackle rheumatic heart disease

January 22, 2018
Billions of US taxpayer dollars have been invested in Africa over the past 15 years to improve care for millions suffering from the HIV/AIDS epidemic; yet health systems on the continent continue to struggle. What if the ...

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.