BHF funding will help CVS researchers spot signs of inflammation that can lead to disease

BHF funding will help CVS researchers spot signs of inflammation that can lead to disease

original PET images from 18F-LW223, the new radiotracer, in rats.

A research team in the Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the University of Edinburgh has been awarded a grant of £276,970 from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) for a project to develop a new type of scanning tool to spot inflammation within arteries and heart muscle.

Inflammation is important in the development and progression of various types of heart and circulatory diseases. Currently, spotting inflammation relies on tests which detect and measure levels of proteins and enzymes in the blood. However, this technique doesn’t tell doctors exactly where the inflammation is happening.

Dr Adriana Tavares and her team have been working on a new scanning tool based on highly specialised scanning techniques called positron emission tomography (PET), which enables scientists to study different processes inside the body.

The researchers have developed a new ‘radiotracer’, a substance that is injected into the blood, then travels through the bloodstream to areas of inflammation and emits a signal that can be detected outside the body using a highly sensitive camera. The researchers can track this signal, in both healthy hearts and after a heart attack, to confirm if there is a sign of inflammation in the heart and blood vessels.

Dr Tavares explains: “Our new radiotracer has been designed so that it can target areas of inflammation in the body to help us better understand the role it plays in heart disease. Thanks to our BHF funding, this new scanning tool could help doctors to diagnose and treat people more effectively in the future, and monitor how they are responding to treatment.”


James Cant, Director of BHF Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to be funding this innovative research at the University of Edinburgh, using ground-breaking scanning techniques to understand the role of inflammation in heart disease. Coronary heart disease continues to be Scotland’s single biggest killer, causing nearly 7,000 deaths every year, so we want to find new ways to detect and prevent it.


“Thanks to our supporters, universities in Scotland have been at the forefront of improving treatment, diagnosis and prevention of heart disease, here and around the world. Their donations make it possible for us to continue investing in high quality research that has the potential to improve and save lives.”