Cardiologist supports the heart .

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TORONTO, Ontario — A revolutionary new imaging tool could be a game-changer in the fight against cardiac amyloidosis, a deadly condition which doctors call “Alzheimer’s disease of the heart.” In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists put this promising new radiotracer to the test – and the results are giving new hope to patients and the medical community.

The findings, in a nutshell

The new radiotracer is called 99mTc-p5+14, and it’s showing promising results in generating high-quality images that can detect cardiac amyloidosis, a condition referred to as the “Alzheimer’s disease of the heart.” This groundbreaking discovery could play a crucial role in the early detection and treatment of cardiac amyloidosis, a life-threatening condition where abnormal proteins build up in the heart and other organs.

Cardiac amyloidosis is a serious condition that can lead to early deaths in about 20% of patients affected by it. Despite recent advancements in treatment, the average survival rate remains low, ranging from three to five years. This is why early detection is crucial, as the available therapies are most effective in the early stages of the disease.

“Therapies that slow the progression of amyloid deposition have been developed; however, they are not effective in patients with late-stage disease. Therefore, the ability to detect cardiac amyloidosis early is critical,” notes Jonathan Wall, PhD, director of the Amyloidosis and Cancer Theranostics Program and a professor at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, in a media release.

Researchers presented this technique at the 2024 Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Annual Meeting.

alzheimers of the heart
Representative whole body planar images of 99mTc-p5+14 of healthy subjects and, with SPECT/CT images, of a patient with ATTRv cardiac amyloidosis at 1 h post injection showing no uptake in the heart of the healthy subject and intense signal in the heart of the patient using both planar and SPECT/CT imaging.

Methodology

To develop this innovative radiotracer, researchers at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine conducted a first-in-human study. They recruited 30 patients newly diagnosed with light chain or transthyretin amyloidosis, as well as five healthy volunteers. These participants underwent imaging with the 99mTc-p5+14 radiotracer, using standard planar gamma scintigraphy and SPECT/CT techniques.

The researchers also collected blood samples to assess serum biomarkers and performed transthoracic echocardiograms on the participants. Additionally, most patients underwent standard 99mTc-pyrophosphate imaging 72 hours after the 99mTc-p5+14 imaging for comparison.

Results

Researchers say the planar and SPECT/CT images generated using 99mTc-p5+14 were high quality and easily interpretable, both one and three hours after injection. Patients with amyloid cardiomyopathy (the buildup of amyloid proteins in the heart muscle) showed significant uptake of the radiotracer in the heart, while healthy individuals showed no cardiac uptake.

This research paves the way for further clinical evaluation and potential FDA approval of 99mTc-p5+14 as a diagnostic tool for cardiac amyloidosis. The researchers are currently conducting ongoing studies to assess the safety and efficacy of the radiotracer, with plans to initiate a pivotal Phase 3 study and submit approval applications to the FDA in the coming years.

“Early and accurate diagnosis of cardiac amyloidosis is crucial to ensure the most positive outcomes for patients,” says Dr. Wall. “Imaging with 99mTc-p5+14 could provide an easy to use and interpret technology that could be employed in the community cardiology setting, where SPECT imaging is common, as a rapid screen for amyloid cardiomyopathy in the future.”

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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