Infraredx to collaborate on cardiovascular imaging R&D with Mass General

Infraredx's TVC Imaging System--Courtesy of Infraredx

Infraredx is collaborating with Massachusetts General Hospital and its coronary imaging researcher Dr. Gary Tearney, who is also affiliated with Harvard Medical School, in a bid to further research and develop combination technologies that provide information about patients' coronary disease.

The company's TVC Imaging System performs standard ultrasound imaging as well as near-infrared spectroscopy, something the competing devices don't do. By measuring a chemical's absorbance of light at various wavelengths, spectroscopy creates a unique peak-and-valley line graph that acts as a fingerprint for identifying and differentiating foreign substances such as collagen and cholesterol-rich plaques.

"We're excited to join forces with Mass General and Dr. Tearney to explore the possibility of creating a new generation of intravascular imaging tools that could improve our ability to diagnose and treat patients with coronary artery disease," Infraredx CEO Don Southard said in a statement. "The partnership, which combines Mass General's world-class research organization with Infraredx's expertise in intravascular imaging technology, has the potential to bring new innovation to the field of cardiovascular imaging."

Tearney previously helped Infraredx, a 2014 Fierce 15 company, develop the critical near-infrared spectroscopy component of what became the TVC Imaging System, according to the release. He is known for his research in using another imaging method, optical coherence tomography, which can also be applied to coronary arteries.

"Our partnership will focus on ways to harness the collective value of current imaging modalities in order to provide clinicians with more comprehensive information on the coronary vasculature to help guide treatment decisions," Tearney said in a statement.

Currently, the TVC is used as a lipid core plaque detector, which means that physicians can benefit from information about the presence of cholesterol-rich plaques as they prepare for surgery. Ultimately, Infraredx hopes to be able to use the device to predict and ultimately prevent heart attacks by identifying cholesterol-rich plaques so that patients can receive stenting in advance of heart failure.

"The reason I founded this company is because if we could find those dangerous plaques and they could be stented, then you can prevent heart attacks," Infraredx Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Muller previously told FierceMedicalDevices.

Conventional stress tests and angiograms are good at detecting signs of narrowing, "but they're miserable at telling the chemistry of the artery wall and the plaque," Muller said. "The differences between cholesterol-laden vulnerable plaques and calcified, fibrotic lesions are significant. The one is obviously active and dangerous, the other one has sort of spent its course."

The TVC Imaging System is designed to differentiate between the two types of lesions.

- read the release

Special Report: FierceMedicalDevices' 2014 Fierce 15 - Infraredx

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