Prescient Medical, Inc., a privately held medical device company dedicated to reducing deaths from heart attacks, announces the acquisition of a new technology that identifies and quantifies metabolic activity and inflammation in human artery tissue by measuring the time it takes for light to dissipate after the tissue has been excited with ultra-short light pulses.
The new technique, called Time Resolved Light Induced Fluorescence Spectroscopy (TR-LIFS), exploits the phenomenon that bi-products of metabolic activity behave differently than surrounding tissue. In TR-LIFS, a short light pulse (picoseconds) is used to excite the tissue, and then the resulting light that emanates from the tissue is monitored over a brief time span (several nanoseconds). This technology has been verified by several research groups to accurately detect inflammation in human tissue in vitro and in vivo.
Arterial plaques are associated with an array of biochemical, functional, and structural changes that can be readily identified with optical techniques. Another Prescient Medical technology, Raman spectroscopy, has been proven to provide exquisite compositional detail, in vivo, of arterial wall constituents and will be entering clinical trials early next year. By combining TR-LIFS with Raman spectroscopy, Prescient's burgeoning arsenal of tools to assist physicians in assessing plaque vulnerability is buttressed with a formidable new diagnostic weapon.
"We believe the development of TR-LIFS technology into a diagnostic product will provide another valuable tool in the fight against heart disease," said Patricia Scheller, Prescient's chief executive officer. "Since 80 percent of all heart attacks are caused by soft plaques that suddenly rupture, identifying these plaques will allow physicians to treat these plaques pro-actively, before a major heart attack can occur. Prescient is actively working with interventional cardiologists to pursue and develop technologies that will greatly advance their ability to diagnose and treat the full spectrum of coronary plaques."
"TR-LIFS is particularly well suited to detecting macrophages, cells that are strongly correlated with inflammation. Inflamed coronary plaques are at risk of causing a heart attack or other coronary event. Prescient Medical plans to integrate TR-LIFS technology into its vPredict(TM) Optical Catheter System, a revolutionary intravascular diagnostic instrument that is currently in development. "TR-LIFS will greatly expand the capabilities of the vPredict Optical Catheter System. Not only will we have information on the composition of coronary plaques, but we will now also be able to identify its metabolic state, which will help interventional cardiologists tailor treatment to each patient's unique needs," according to Ms. Scheller.
In addition to the development of TR-LIFS, PMI is expected to commence the clinical trials of several other revolutionary diagnostic and treatment approaches in 2008. This will include the first human clinical studies of the stent-like vProtect(TM) Luminal Shield, a prosthesis that treats soft coronary plaques, and the vPredict(TM) Optical Catheter System, a diagnostic catheter designed to analyze and quantify the chemical composition of arterial plaque and assess its vulnerability to rupture.
Each year, one in every 100 Americans over the age of 35 will suffer a coronary event. Of these victims, over one million of them will suffer a heart attack caused by the sudden rupture of soft plaque hidden inside the artery wall. This type of plaque is believed to be the major culprit in up to 80 percent of all heart attacks.