Study: Imaging Probe Allows Noninvasive Detection of Heart-Valve Infection

August 29, 2011

In a study published online (August 21, vialis 40mg 2011) in Nature Medicine, purchase researchers co-led by Peter Panizzi, PhD, of the Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University,¬†present a novel imaging probe that “may make it possible to diagnose accurately a dangerous infection of the heart valves.”

The imaging probe, developed by a team in the Center for Systems Biology of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), was shown to be able to detect the presence of Staphylococcus aureus-associated endocarditis in a mouse model.

“Our probe was able to sense whether S. aureus was present in abnormal growths that hinder the normal function of heart valves,” says Matthias Nahrendorf, MD, PhD, of the MGH Center for Systems Biology, a co-lead author of the study. “It has been very difficult to identify the bacteria involved in endocarditis, but a precise diagnosis is important to steering well-adjusted antibiotic therapy.”

An infection of the tissue lining the heart valves, endocarditis is characterized by growths called vegetations made up of clotting components such as platelets and fibrin along with infecting microorganisms. Endocarditis caused by S. aureus is the most dangerous, with a mortality rate of from 25 to almost 50 percent, but diagnosis can be difficult since symptoms such as fever and heart murmur are vague and blood tests may not detect the involved bacteria. Without appropriate antibiotic therapy, S. aureus endocarditis can progress rapidly, damaging or destroying heart valves.

Ralph Weissleder, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Center for Systems Biology is senior and co-corresponding author. Additional co-authors are Jose-Luiz Figueiredo, Brett Marinelli, Yoshi Iwamoto, Edmund Keliher, Peter Waterman, Florian Leuschner, Elena Aikawa, Filip Swirski and Mikael Pittet, MGH Center for Systems Biology; Jennifer Panizzi, MGH Nephrology; Ashoka Maddur, Heather Kroh and Paul Bock, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Tilman Hackeng, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands; Pablo Fuentes-Prior, Hospital de la Santa Creu, Barcelona, Spain; and Olaf Schneewind, University of Chicago. The study was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Click here to read the press release.

 

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