A simple blood test could be effective in predicting a heart attack based on a test that was developed by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in California.
The test, reported Friday in the journal Physical Biology, identifies endothelial cells in the bloodstream. These cells circulate when arteries rapture due to a buildup of plaque and can be found after heart attacks occur.Peter Kuhn, a researcher at Scripps and co-author of the study, told Healthline that the test requires a mere 1 milliliter of blood to complete. Flourescent markers are used to label the cells, which are examines and analyzed by a computer.
“Industrialization of the process is now needed to bring this to broad availability,” Kuhn said.
The procedure is known as a High-Definition Circulating Endothelial Cell (HD-CEC) assay per Healthline. In developing it, researchers took blood samples from 79 patients who experienced a heart attack and compared them to samples of 25 healthy people who had not suffered from a heart attack and seven patients currently undergoing treatment for vascular disease who were at high risk for a heart attack,
Kuhn also said that the technology has been licensed to Epic Scienes who are now “shrink-wrapping it for routine use.”
“Our assay effectively analyzes millions of cells, which is more work but guarantees that you are analyzing all of the potential cells,” Kuhn said in a news release. “With the enrichment stage in the CellSearch methodology, it is possible that the important cells you wish to study could be lost.”
Researchers said the test can help identify endothelial cells better than a commercially available test called CellSearch, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The test counts tumor cells in the blood of cancer patients.
Kuhn said the HD-CEC test uses multi-color imagery and computer-assisted calculations to help spot dangerous cells. Next, Kuhn and his colleagues want to replicate their findings in patients experiencing acute chest pain. Minutes matter when someone is having a heart attack, which is why if a simple blood test can help, it might be worth taking.