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CT scans could detect heart disease

Researchers may be better able to identify people at high risk for cardiovascular disease using CT, a new study at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands has shown.

“The results of this study show that radiologists can predict cardiovascular disease fairly well using incidental findings of calcifications of the aortic wall on CT, along with minimal patient information, such as age, gender and the reason for the CT,” said Martijn J A Gondrie.

Over the past 10 years CT image quality has dramatically improved, leading to many more incidental findings. Incidental findings are unexpectedly detected imaging characteristics that are unrelated to the original clinical indication for the CT.

Gondrie and colleagues developed prediction models incorporating incidental aortic findings detected on chest CT. Scores were assigned for incidental aortic abnormalities found on CT, including calcifications, plaques, elongation and other irregularities.

While each aortic abnormality was highly predictive, the prediction model incorporating the sum score for aortic calcifications was most indicative of future cardiovascular events.

‘Firefly’ stem cells could help repair damaged hearts

Research at University of Central Florida are working with glowing ‘firefly’ stem cells that could guide them in repairing damaged hearts without actually cutting into the organ.
Steven Ebert, an associate professor in UCF’s College of Medicine, engineered stem cells with the same enzyme that makes fireflies glow. They glow brighter day-by-day engineered stem cells with the same enzyme that makes fireflies glow.

The glow of the enzyme also means therapies would no longer require cutting into patients’ chest cavities to monitor the healing.

If doctors can figure out exactly how the cells repair and regenerate cardiac tissue, stem cell therapies could offer hope to millions.

Now that scientists can track the stem cells, Ebert said he hopes to use them in disease models to determine how they heal a damaged heart and what conditions are most suitable for the stems cells to thrive.

Now, a blood test to detect organ transplant rejection

A simple blood test can now help doctors in identifying the clues of transplant rejection — a feat that could pave the way for a non-invasive alternative for diagnosing organ rejection before damage occurs, says a new study.

The technique could help the 40 per cent of heart transplant recipients who experience an acute episode of rejection in their first year after transplantation. Usually, in case organ function drops, a small piece of tissue will be removed and checked for rejection.
But many times, the organ may already be damaged by the time doctors spot a problem.
A simple blood test for the proteins involved in the inflammatory response of rejection could provide the answer, said Adul Butte at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

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