Target Contrast Imaging in Atherosclerosis and Other Vascular Diseases Using Super-paramagnetic Iron Oxide Loaded RL Platelets



Aaron Richardson


Research Mentor:

Dr. Caterina Gallippi, PhD


Clinical Co-Mentor;

Dr. Timothy Nichols, MD

Project Description:

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and western society. Costs in the United States due to cardiovascular disease exceed 200 billion dollars a year. Cardiovascular ultrasound imaging, which is a cost-efficient and safe diagnostic method compared to current methods, may be improved by contrast agents that selectively increase signal brightness. One such novel contrast agent was created by loading SPIO nanoparticles into StasiX® platelets.

Loaded platelet detectability by B-mode ultrasound imaging was examined using tissue-mimicking phantoms created from a 3% by mass agarose gelatin with 2% graphite. Platelets, along with 2%, 3,% and 4% by mass graphite and SPIO nanoparticles concentrations, were homogenously suspended in 3% agarose tissue phantom cylinders with a diameter of 1.5cm and height 1.75cm. Cylinders were sealed at a two centimeter depth within large tissue-mimicking phantom blocks. Raw radio frequency data was collected to render B-Mode images and calculate contrast-to-noise ratios (CNR). Qualitative inspection of B-Mode images visually indicated contrast agent presence in tissue background with CNR values as high as -7.4dB suggesting that SPIO loaded StasiX® platelets are usable as contrast agents in ultrasound imaging.

After thorough animal testing for efficacy and safety is complete, clinicians will administer the platelets intravenously to the patient being tested. It is hypothesized that once in the body, SPIO loaded platelets will be attracted to areas of atherosclerosis. This will allow for easier detection of early atherosclerosis for better diagnosis and treatment administration.