Now, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have reported that they have designed nanoparticles that find and attach to blood clots and make them visible to a new kind of X-ray technology.
There are already ways of finding out whether a person who comes to a hospital with chest pain is actually experiencing a heart attack or not, but it involves a complicated procedure and an day long stay. This new technology will reduce the wait to a few hours, and a much cheaper procedure.
It can also be used in people who have not had a heart attack yet, but who might have an increased risk factor, overweight people, or smokers for example, to detect risks, or potential blood clots, and help people avoid cardiovascular disease.
The nanoparticles work because they contain the metal bismouth, which can be seen in the body using a new kind of CT-scan, that uses the full spectrum of X-Rays meaning that it can image in colours, not just black and white as normal X-Rays do.
Bismouth is however a toxic heavy metal, and to use it without damaging tissue even more, it has been packed in a chain of fatty acid that cannot be broken apart by the body.
But the new nanoparticle does more than just confirm a heart attack/blood clot, it also shows the exact location of it, which has the potential to save countless lives.
|Image of a blood clot (Credit: Massachusetts General Hospital: Vascular Centre)|
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