New MSU Research could detect early signs of a heart attack

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)— Michigan State University College of Engineering Associate Professor Bryan Smith is leading a team of researchers to create a warning system that would detect early signs of heart attacks. 

Smith developed the beginning stages of research nearly seven years ago when he was studying at Stanford University.

He brought his knowledge, and partnership with others across the nation to Michigan State University to continue his life-long work to help save lives from heart attacks. Smith’s grandpa died from a heart attack on a cruise ship with his grandma. When that tragedy happened, Smith was devastated and wanted to make a difference.

 “Heart disease is such a killer and it’s the number one killer worldwide of people,” Smith said. 

Smith says what his team of researchers has done is injected nano-particles into mice, and those particles travel into dangerous cells that could block arteries, and when used with photoacoustic technology, the negative blockage would light up.

Smith told 6 News the future of this research would be injecting those particles into the human body if it passes all of the animal trial runs. “When this gets into particular cells that are known to be causative of a disease, it can help us decrease target signals, and off-target effects,” Smith stated. In the near future, the negative cells that cause heart attacks could lighten up under MRIs and ultrasounds. 

“A super selective diagnostic can potentially change the way that we practice medicine,” Smith stated. 
Smith and his research team say the new technique being used in mice is the first step before they advance their research for human use.

They are looking at the cells called, “macrophages and monocytes.”  Macrophages and monocytes are cells that can be found in tissues, white blood cells, and usually when an infection takes place. 

“If this technology as proposed would work that would be a major addition to the field,” Dr. Abela, Chief of MSU Healthcare’s Cardiology Department said. 

Dr. Abela told 6 News this research is helpful because it plays a major role as a “labeling system”, and it marks inflamed cells that could potentially save lives. 

“We know the risks often treat those patients,” Dr. Abela said, “but it would be very nice to know who’s actually going to have a heart attack, now we don’t have that kind of information so if we have a way of early detection that would be great.”

This technology could take at least six to 12 years to be put in place. 

“We need better warning systems, we need better treatments,” Smith said, “and that’s where our technology is going.”

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