06 Mar 18. New scanning tool
Edinburgh Imaging scientists using cutting-edge scans to spot heart disease.
Dr Adriana Tavares & her team at the University of Edinburgh have been awarded a grant of £276,970 from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) for a project to develop a new type of scanning tool to spot inflammation within arteries & heart muscle.
New scanning tool to spot heart disease
Inflammation is important in the development & progression of various types of heart & circulatory diseases. Currently, spotting inflammation relies on tests which detect and measure levels of proteins & enzymes in the blood. However, this technique doesn’t tell doctors exactly where the inflammation is happening.
Dr Adriana Tavares & her team have been working on a new scanning tool based on highly specialised scanning techniques called positron emission tomography (PET), which enables scientists to study different processes inside the body.
“We’re delighted to be funding this innovative research at the University of Edinburgh, using ground-breaking scanning techniques to understand the role of inflammation in heart disease. Coronary heart disease continues to be Scotland’s single biggest killer, causing nearly 7,000 deaths every year, so we want to find new ways to detect & prevent it.
Development of a new tracer
The researchers have developed a new ‘radiotracer’, a substance that is injected into the blood, then travels through the bloodstream to areas of inflammation and emits a signal that can be detected outside the body using a highly sensitive camera. The researchers can track this signal, in both healthy hearts and after a heart attack, to confirm if there is a sign of inflammation in the heart & blood vessels.
“Our new radiotracer has been designed so that it can target areas of inflammation in the body to help us better understand the role it plays in heart disease. Thanks to our BHF funding, this new scanning tool could help doctors to diagnose & treat people more effectively in the future, & monitor how they are responding to treatment.”