New probe to detect blood clots

Doctors must spot deposits and judge whether they are likely to come loose and block an artery.

Now, the submarine, called the new probe, developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, also detects molecules that mark out the most harmful clots and fatty plaques, the ‘New Scientist’ reported.

To test the probe, the scientists first fed rabbits a diet that generated arterial deposits. They then injected them with a fluorescent chemical that tags the danger-sign molecules.

The probe carries a detector for the fluorescent light, which revealed bright areas on artery walls where the tags had found their targets. The scientists were able to detect fibrin — a protein that causes clots to form, and cathepsin B, an enzyme found in the most dangerous plaques.

In principle, any molecule could be detected, including molecular signatures of cancer, say the scientists. And just like on the submarine, lasers to zap suspicious lesions could be added.

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