Atherosclerosis is largely an asymptomatic disease where plaques
develop over decades and symptoms do not appear until greater than 70%
of a vessel is occluded. This results in significant risk of
severe cardiovascular events such as stroke or myocardial infractions,
highlighting the need for early, non-invasive diagnosis of the disease.
Researchers at Stanford University have demonstrated for the first time the use of a dual optical and PET/CT activity-based probe to detect atherosclerotic plaques. The study is published in the October issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
Matthew Bogyo, one of the lead authors of the study explains, "This collaborative study with Zhen Cheng and Michael McConnell provides evidence that these probes have potential benefits for non-invasive imaging of atherosclerotic plaque inflammation, potentially leading to the application of this probe in the clinic to help identify patients at high risk of developing premature atherosclerosis."
The study demonstrates that ABPs targeting the cysteine cathepsins offer a rapid, non-invasive way to image atherosclerotic disease progression and plaque vulnerability.
Bogyo notes, "What's novel about this is the fact that these probes provide accurate detection of lesions undergoing high levels of inflammatory activity and extracellular matrix remodeling. They not only enable early disease detection, they can provide real-time monitoring of therapeutic responses and clinical drug efficacy."
He sees broader uses for the probes in the future. "The probes show efficacy in a variety of imaging modalities, including fluorescence, PET/CT, and topical application of the probe to fresh frozen murine and human tissue sections. These tools further demonstrate that the future of molecular imaging and nuclear medicine will be focused on agents that allow specific targeting of disease-associated proteins or markers that allow monitoring of disease onset, progress and response to therapeutic agents."