Magnetic Particles Pinpoint Effectiveness of Heart Therapies

Magnetic particles show whether cardiovascular disease treatments work

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Doctors can't always tell whether treatments for cardiovascular disease will be effective for each patient. A high tech solution may provide the answer.

Injecting immune cells containing traceable tiny magnetic particles may allow doctors to better assess whether treatments are effective.

"Talk to your cardiologist about determining the effectiveness of treatment."

Jennifer Richards, MD, lead author and vascular surgeon at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cardiovascular Science in Scotland, said the discovery could change how physicians assess new treatments affecting inflammation and the outcome of a heart attack or heart failure.

During the study researchers used test tubes to determine that magnetically labeled blood cells move and thrive similar to normal cells. They then conducted four small clinical trials.

Three thigh muscle injections of unlabeled cells, magnetically labeled cells, and only magnetic material were given to six patients, with the moving labeled cells traceable by Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) up to a week later.

An additional 12 patients received intravenous injections of labeled blood cells -- half a large dose and the rest a small dose. Researchers were able to trace the magnetic particles by MRI a week later.

Two participants received six increasingly larger doses of injected magnetically labeled cells, which were found safe to administer.

Researchers also injected one person with labeled blood cells and successfully followed the cells by MRI as they moved to an inflamed area of skin on the thigh. This allowed investigators to determine how well cells travel to sites with inflammation, and suggested the method could facilitate development of future cell-based therapies.

Other methods of determining the success of treatments are available, but expose patients to radiation or allow the cells to be tracked for only hours compared to a full week for particles. Additional clinical trials will be needed before magnetically labeled blood cells can be used on a regular basis.

The study has been published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, an American Heart Association journal.

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Review Date: 
July 9, 2012
Last Updated:
July 11, 2012