German institutions and companies to study early detection of heart
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding a research
project studying a new diagnostic procedure, called “Nano-Ag”, for the early
detection of the risk for cardiac infarction.
The project will be conducted by well-known German companies and renowned
academic institutes. Siemens Medical Solutions leads the consortium which
includes partners Schering AG, Ferropharm, MeVis gGmbH, Charité Berlin, The
German Cancer Research Institute of Heidelberg, and the Radiology Department
of Freiburg University. The project is jointly funded by the German Federal
Ministry of Education and Research’s initiative “NanoforLife” and industry.
The objective of this research initiative is to establish a diagnostic
procedure for the early detection of the risk for cardiac infarction. For
this purpose, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent based on
nanoscale iron oxide particles and corresponding MRI procedure are being
developed. Its subsequent application should operate in the following
manner: after the contrast agent is injected it selectively enriches the
affected regions. Using modern imaging procedures such as MRI, the enriched
contrast agent and the source of the potential danger can be visualized.
Over the past few years there has been increasing evidence to indicate
that inflamed changes to the vascular wall, called vulnerable plaque, are
primarily responsible for the acute vascular occlusions that occur with
myocardial infarction. Definite verification of this plaque is not possible
using current imaging techniques. The chemical modification of super
paramagnetic iron oxide particles (VSOP= very small superparamagnetic iron
oxide particle) is expected to provide new opportunities for non-invasive
verification of this pathology. Various tests will be used to determine
whether this VSOP under development is suitable as contrast agent for MRI
In addition to the VSOP development, MRI measurement procedures have to
be adapted to the specialised requirements of cardiac imaging, for example,
in terms of temporal and spatial resolution. In this case, primarily
clinical MRI systems currently in the development phase will be used to
accelerate the subsequent transfer of these methods to the clinical routine.
Development is taking place in a, to date, unique interdisciplinary
consortium comprising industry, medium-sized companies, and leading
international academic centres.