What we do
About our project
What is the motivation for this research?
Atherosclerosis is a deadly disease, killing >1 million people/year in the EU by stroke and coronary heart disease. Rupture of lipid-rich plaques or erosion triggers clot formation, leading to distal embolisation in the coronary vessels or the brain. To date, we cannot predict when or where in the vascular system that will happen. Fast growing plaques, driven by inflammation and lipid accumulation, are more likely to cause clinical events. Plaque lipid composition reflects plaque development, but is inaccessible with today’s diagnostic techniques.
What is the aim?
The main objective is imaging of plaque lipids, creating diagnostics based on local biochemistry. Lipid imaging will inform personalised risk assessment and therapy guidance in patients with atherosclerosis.
How will you perform this research?
We will build new technologies, clinically validated and ready for application. The research is organised in three subprojects:
- Imaging mass spectrometry linked to photoacoustic spectroscopy on autopsy specimens will elucidate plaque lipid content and distribution, and enable in vivo imaging of lipids in atherosclerosis.
- I will build a non-invasive plaque imager for clinical use, and deploy it in studies of carotid plaque lipidomics in two high-risk populations with atherosclerosis that is difficult to manage.
- Intravascular polarisation-sensitive optical coherence spectroscopy will deliver high-resolution imaging of culprit plaque composition in patients.
What is the desirable outcome?
We develop technologies to better predict instability of atherosclerotic plaques, so targeted interventions become possible.
Funds & Grants
NWO Vici 16131