0508-News-ATVBPVD-Enhanced ultrasound_Blog

An enhanced type of ultrasound imaging offers a potential way to simultaneously diagnose and treat blood clots, as well as monitor patients’ responses to clot-dissolving drugs, according to research presented Friday at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology/Peripheral Vascular Disease Scientific Sessions 2015.

Researchers combined the clot-dissolving drug urokinase with an activated platelet-specific single-chain antibody, which is an antibody that targets blood clots. They put the search-and-destroy duo on the surface of microbubbles, which are used to enhance ultrasound imaging.

In essence, they created a new way to use ultrasound to find, target and dissolve blood clots using tiny air bubbles.

The researchers monitored clot size in mice with ultrasound imaging and measured bleeding time after experimental injury, while comparing four treatment groups: 1) microbubbles coated with both the antibody and urokinase; 2) targeted microbubbles and a high dose of urokinase administered separately; 3) targeted microbubbles and a low dose of urokinase administered separately; and 4) a control group with targeted-microbubbles coated and no urokinase.

They found:

  • Treatment with the microbubbles that had the targeting single-chain antibody and urokinase on the surface notably reduced clot size within an hour without causing bleeding problems.
  • Similar clot-dissolving efficacy with urokinase application alone (the current clinical practice) could only be achieved with a high dose of urokinase that caused bleeding problems.

While research is in the early stages, this innovative technology could lead to major progress in the rapid diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The new technology can help patients that are suffering from the devastating consequences of blood clots such as heart attacks and some types of stroke. The technology can also help patients with clots that build up in deep veins of the legs, possibly causing pulmonary embolism.

The newly developed technology promises to have a major impact on fast and effective treatment of patients in the emergency department, researchers said.