A new "fluid biopsy" technique that could identify patients at very high risk of a heart attack by identifying specific cells as markers in the bloodstream has been developed by a group of researchers in the US.
The technique, which has been described today, 10 January, in IOP Publishing's journal Physical Biology, works by identifying circulating endothelial cells (CECs) and has been successful in distinguishing patients undergoing treatment for a recent heart attack with a healthy control group.
The researchers, based at The Scripps Research Institute in California, believe the technique can now be tested on patients who exhibit symptoms but are yet to experience a heart attack, and believe it is a genuine candidate for clinical use, of which there is no predictive test--at least not of satisfying accuracy--currently available.
Co-author of the study Professor Peter Kuhn said: "The goal of this paper was to establish evidence that these circulating endothelial cells can be detected reliably in patients following a heart attack and do not exist in healthy controls, which we have achieved."
"Our results were so significant relative to the healthy controls that the obvious next step is to assess the usefulness of the test in identifying patients during the early stages of a heart attack."
Endothelial cells, which line the walls of the arteries, have been strongly linked to on-going heart attacks when circulating in the bloodstream and are thought to arrive there when diseased plaque builds up, ruptures and ulcerates, causing inflammation in the arteries.
This damage can cause blood clots to form which prevent blood from flowing through the arteries and ultimately results in a heart attack.
As such, the researchers developed a procedure called the High-Definition Circulating Endothelial Cell (HD-CEC) assay to detect and characterise CECs in the blood samples of 79 patients who had experienced a heart attack at the time of sampling.
For comparison they also used the assay on two control groups, which consisted of 25 healthy patients and seven patients undergoing treatment for vascular disease.
The assay was able to identify CECs by their morphological features and their reactions with specific antibodies. The cells were shown to be significantly elevated in the heart attack patients compared to the healthy controls and were detected with high sensitivity and high specificity.
The researchers also compared their results with a commercially available test, called CellSearch®, which has previously been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enumerate circulating tumour cells in cancer patients.
The HD-CEC test showed a higher specificity for CECs compared to CellSearch® because it used a direct analysis method and was free of bias from an enrichment stage.
"Our assay effectively analyses millions of cells, which is more work but guarantees that you are analysing all of the potential cells. With the enrichment stage in the CellSearch® methodology it is possible that the important cells you wish to study could be lost," continued Professor Kuhn.
From Friday 10 January, this paper can be downloaded from http://iopscience.
Notes to Editors
For further information, a full draft of the journal paper or contact with one of the researchers, contact: Michael Bishop IOP Press Officer Tel: 0117-930-1032 E-mail: email@example.com
For more information on how to use the embargoed material above, please refer to our embargo policy.
IOP Publishing Journalist Area
The IOP Publishing Journalist Area gives journalists access to embargoed press releases, advance copies of papers, supplementary images and videos. In addition to this, a weekly news digest is uploaded into the Journalist Area every Friday, highlighting a selection of newsworthy papers set to be published in the following week.
Login details also give free access to IOPscience, IOP Publishing's journal platform.
To apply for a free subscription to this service, please email your name, organisation, address and a preferred username to: Michael Bishop IOP Press Officer firstname.lastname@example.org
Fluid Phase Biopsy for Detection and Characterisation of Circulating Endothelial Cells in Myocardial Infarction
The published version of the paper "Fluid phase biopsy for detection and characterisation of circulating endothelial cells in myocardial infarction" will be freely available online from Friday 10 January. It will be available at http://iopscience.
Physical Biology publishes research on the quantitative characterization and understanding of biological systems at different levels of complexity.
IOP Publishing provides a range of journals, magazines, websites and services that enable researchers and research organisations to reach the widest possible audience for their research.
We combine the culture of a learned society with global reach and highly efficient and effective publishing systems and processes. With offices in the UK, US, Germany, China and Japan, and staff in many other locations including Mexico and Russia, we serve researchers in the physical and related sciences in all parts of the world.
IOP Publishing is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Institute of Physics. The Institute is a leading scientific society promoting physics and bringing physicists together for the benefit of all. Any profits generated by IOP Publishing are used by the Institute to support science and scientists in both the developed and developing world. Go to ioppublishing.org.
Institute of Physics
The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application. We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications. Go to http://www.