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Research project

Molecular imaging of atherosclerosis

We develop new diagnostic imaging, aimed at targeting inflammation and calcification with radionuclide imaging, to assess atherosclerotic plaque composition.

What we do

About our project

Background
Atherosclerosis is a lipid- and inflammation-driven disease of the arteries that is characterized by fatty-streak development and subsequent plaque formation. Plaque rupture is the main cause of acute coronary syndromes. Traditionally, the burden of atherosclerotic disease is estimated from the percentage of stenosis detected by coronary angiography. Coronary angiography is a valuable tool to assess coronary heart disease, but is invasive in nature and cannot detect rupture-prone atherosclerotic plaques. An additional imaging tool aimed at characterizing atherosclerosis of the coronary tree is required to identify patients at risk, and would allow targeted treatment.

Aim
We aim at detecting inflammation and calcification as targets for radionuclide imaging to assess atherosclerotic plaque composition as plaque composition is linked to rupture risk. The ultimate goal is to develop new diagnostic imaging and discover new treatment targets for atherosclerosis.

Approach
We make use of (pre-)clinical models and patient samples. Our studies include multiple radioligands targeting inflammatory cell subsets and (micro)calcifications in atherosclerotic plaques. Radioligand uptake specificity is validated by immunohistochemical analysis of the targets.

  1. Characterize the presence of the target in human atherosclerosis samples.
  2. Test the radioligand for the in vivo detection of its target in pre-clinical models of atherosclerosis
  3. Detect atherosclerosis in patients by non-invasive radioligand imaging

Our research focus

This study is expected to demonstrate the applicability of radiolabeled imaging compounds for non-invasive characterization of coronary atherosclerosis by imaging of inflammation and (micro)calcification, including differentiation of culprit from non-culprit plaques.

Funds & Grants

Erasmus MC grant, a grant to stimulate collaborations between clinical and pre‐clinical researchers for project ”Non‐invasive molecular imaging of inflammation to detect atherosclerosis” (2014-2020)

European Union Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions grant number: 707404

Collaborations

Publications

Our team

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