According to clinical data, over 2 million coronary artery stents implanted each year to help protect or restore blood flow in the heart of patients suffering from heart attack due to coronary artery disease. While the efficacy and safety of stents is established, the clotting or scarring of unhealed stents in a small number of patients, which causes complications such as thrombosis that can be life-threatening. In fact, at present, methods to detect stent healing on the basis of their biological clotting status for patients is unavailable.
To present a solution for this, a team of researchers at the Masonic Medical Research Institute have developed a fluorescent probe that attaches to activated platelets. These platelets are one of the main types of cells involved in the scarring and clotting of improperly healed stents.
Meanwhile, by employing a new molecular imaging agent targeted for platelets, coupled with fluorescence imaging, this enables a new approach for localizing and visualizing platelets for coronary stent implantation. Importantly, the tool has the potential that enables clinicians to proactively treat patients before occlusive stent clotting or scaring occurs. This is in contrast to reactively when the patient is symptomatic, stated the co-author of the study.
The collaborated work of the team led to modifying a drug called tirofiban – a FDA approved compound to attach to activate platelets. This enables a fluorescence based strategy to detect platelet rich clots on experimental subjects.
Clinically, stent implantation is a common invasive procedure wherein stent is delivered over a coronary wire to the target lesion location. For the procedure, it is assumed clinicians have access to intracoronary wire during the procedure.