Coronary heart disease: Understanding atherosclerosis through molecular imaging

Dr. Rodriguez-Porcel's Cardiovascular Molecular Imaging Laboratory is developing molecular imaging methods to detect arterial atherosclerotic lesions.

Untreated, arterial atherosclerotic lesions can evolve into more-severe obstructions and lead to life-threatening vascular problems, such as myocardial infarction, stroke or peripheral arterial disease.

Dr. Rodriguez-Porcel's research team is studying atherosclerosis using a wide array of molecular imaging technologies, such as nuclear cardiology and ultrasound, which are providing an improved and more accurate study of the biology of atherosclerotic disease.

As part of the atherosclerosis molecular imaging project, the lab is developing novel imaging devices and improving existing ones.

As an example, the team is constructing a novel intravascular catheter to detect the metabolic activity of atherosclerotic plaque, which will provide critical information about which plaques are more prone to rupture, leading to a myocardial infarction.

Translation of these strategies will make a significant advancement in the understanding and treatment of patients, and if the lab is able to detect and treat atherosclerotic plaques, the incidence of myocardial infarctions in these patients might be reduced.