The International Contrast Ultrasound Society (ICUS)

Busting Blood Clots in the Ambulance

CHICAGO, IL -- Physicians announced today that tiny microbubbles are being used to more effectively deliver a blood clot busting drug to patients while they are in the ambulance during acute heart attack.

"Time is muscle," said Dr. Otto Kamp from VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands, stating that the quicker you deliver therapy the more heart muscle you will save.

Liquid suspensions of tiny gas microbubbles  have traditionally been used as a diagnostic imaging tool.  The microbubble suspensions are routinely used as ultrasound contrast agents to improve the clarity and reliability of an ultrasound image without exposing patients to ionizing radiation.  The microbubbles are about a third the size of a red blood cell and, when they are injected into a patient's arm vein, they improve the clarity and accuracy of diagnostic ultrasound exams. The microbubbles are expelled from the body within minutes.

Dr. Kamp's findings move microbubbles from a diagnostic imaging use to an exciting therapeutic application. He used microbubbles along with TPA, a drug that busts blood clots. When the injected microbubbles reached the clot, increased ultrasound frequencies were applied to cause the microbubbles to burst. The burst bubbles create tiny holes in the clot, allowing the drug to work more effectively in its targeted location.

"This permits a lower and safer dose of TPA with reduced side effects, especially hemorrhage and stroke," according to Dr. Kamp.  "This also permits increased doses of TPA and improves the efficiency of this therapy."

Steve Feinstein, a Rush University cardiologist and ICUS Co-president, said the findings demonstrate the vast potential benefits of using microbubble ultrasound contrast agents as a platform for delivering a range of drugs and genes to specific organ systems and tumors.

"Considerable work is underway showing that microbubbles may be useful in delivering cancer drugs, diabetes drugs, and genes that increase HDL -- good cholesterol -- to targeted sites throughout the body," he said.  "Dr. Kamp's work is especially exciting because it now shows how a related technique works in patients."

The Netherlands research was announced at the 27th Annual Advances in Contrast Ultrasound ICUS Bubble Conference, a gathering of physcians and scientists around the world in the fields of cardiology, radiology, vascular medicine, gastro-intestinal medicine, oncology, and other medical specialties.

ABOUT ICUS: ICUS is an international, multi-disciplinary, not-for-profit medical society that is exclusively dedicated to advancing the use of contrast enhanced ultrasound diagnostic imaging to improve patient care worldwide. Founded in September 2008, ICUS brings together physicians, scientists, and other ultrasound imaging professionals from over 55 countries. ICUS members represent diverse specialties such as cardiology, radiology, vascular imaging, gastro-intestinal imaging, oncology, OB-GYN, and hepatology. For more information about ICUS, please visit www.icus-society.org/2013site.

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