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Noninvasive PET Imaging Technique Helps Visualize Inflammatory Cells in Human Heart

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 25 Oct 2023
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Image: A noninvasive technique helps scientists visualize immune cells in the human heart (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: A noninvasive technique helps scientists visualize immune cells in the human heart (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Inflammation plays a significant role in causing negative outcomes in a range of heart diseases, including heart attacks. Up until now, scientists have only a vague understanding of the specific immune cells that contribute to conditions like inflammation of the heart muscle and the progression of heart failure. Now, a study has introduced a new molecular imaging method that could advance human cardiac imaging by providing a novel approach to noninvasively visualize these cell types.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSTL, St. Louis, MO, USA) have developed a new type of positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer used to monitor and quantify immune cell trafficking in the human heart following a heart attack, an issue that has not been effectively tackled in clinical settings until now. The team was successful in using this PET technology to noninvasively observe inflammatory immune cells in patients who had experienced heart attacks.

This noninvasive imaging technology has the potential to not only identify those who are most likely to benefit from immunomodulatory therapies but also to evaluate the effectiveness of these treatments. Going forward, the focus of research will be on expanding the pool of patients studied and investigating how the imaging affects heart structure, functionality, and clinical results.

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