Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the number one causes of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and one in four deaths in the United States is attributed to heart disease. Early assessment and monitoring of blood vessel health to inform preventative care and lifestyle modification is an important step towards reducing risk. Research developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) will give patients a more complete view of the state of their blood vessels, potentially saving lives.
LBNL’s Jonathan Maltz and Thomas Budinger, funded by the DOE Office of Science, developed a device to evaluate arterial lining health to assess plaque buildup and atherosclerosis quickly and easily, outside a clinical setting. Routine blood pressure and cholesterol testing do not evaluate arterial lining health. Yet plaque deposits breaking away from inner artery walls, ultimately blocking blood flow downstream. Prior to this technology, plaque buildup and atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries – could only be measured with expensive, time consuming, in-clinic ultrasound testing.
The LBNL researchers developed advanced prototype devices for clinical testing to prove the device’s superior sensitivity compared to ultrasound results. Over 130 studies have been performed at UCSF Cardiology, UCSF Pediatric Cardiology and Kaiser Permanente, and over 30,000 subjects are enrolled in the Health eHeart study for further endothelial function evaluation.
Startup Lexington Biosciences licensed the technology in 2015 with funding from Oxygen Capital Corporation. Lexington Biosciences will further refine the device, named the HeartSentry, and complete clinical testing before initiating the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for HeartSentry in the coming year.