Researchers at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, have shown how a radioactive agent developed in the 1960s to detect bone cancer can be re-purposed to highlight the build-up of unstable calcium deposits in arteries, a process that can cause heart attack and stroke.
The technique, reported in the journal Nature Communications, could help in the diagnosis of these conditions in at-risk patients and in the development of new medicines.
Atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries – is a potentially serious condition where arteries become clogged by a build-up of fatty deposits known as 'plaques'. One of the key constituents in these deposits is calcium. In some people, pieces from the calcified artery can break away – if the artery supplies the brain or heart with blood, this can lead to stroke or heart attack. Read more.