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Fluorescence device to diagnose atherosclerosis and tumors described at optics conference

he ability of time-resolved laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy (TR-LIFS) to differentiate brain tumor tissue from normal brain tissue and its ability to detect arterial plaque that is vulnerable to rupture, which often leads to heart attack or stroke.

Recent atherosclerosis research has found that the composition of plaque and its "vulnerability" to rupture may be more significant than the degree of arterial blockage as a precursor to heart attack and stroke. The lipid content of vulnerable plaque is different from that of stable plaque, and areas containing vulnerable plaque are infiltrated by immune system cells called macrophages. This inflammatory process weakens the plaque's thin, fibrous cap, often leading to rupture and formation of blood clots that could plug the blood vessel. A variety of technologies are now being investigated for their potential to detect vulnerable plaque before rupture or to study how plaques develop and rupture.

This is believed to be the first documentation that the inflammatory cells, macrophages, can be detected in human atherosclerotic plaque using TR-LIFS. In a study of plaques collected from 34 patients undergoing surgical removal of carotid plaque, with 150 plaque areas analyzed, the TR-LIFS technique has been able to distinguish plaque found in inflamed areas from more stable plaque with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity.

Experiments are now being conducted on plaque that exists in patients' blood vessels, both before and after it is removed during a surgical procedure called endarterectomy. Results found with the spectroscopic technique are then compared to those found when the specimens are later analyzed in the pathology laboratory.

"Right now, the goal of our research project is to define how well the TR-LIFS technique can detect the features of plaque vulnerability. But our objective is to develop a minimally invasive, intravascular probe that will monitor plaque over time
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Contact: Sandy Van
sandy@prpacific.com
1-800-880-2397
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
27-May-2005


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