​Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics

Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics

The Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, a program of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, is a multidisciplinary translational research facility designed to develop the science and technology of ultrasound contrast agents and ultrasound imaging systems with the goal of moving basic discoveries in ultrasound-based molecular imaging and treatments into clinical practice.

Led by Flordeliza Villanueva, MD, director of Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, the Center’s research staff are primarily engaged in the development and application of microbubble technology – a promising method for imaging early disease using ultrasound molecular imaging as well as for delivering targeted drug or gene therapy.

In fact, Dr. Villanueva and her research team were the first to use ultrasound technology and targeted microbubbles to demonstrate that heart disease could be diagnosed in a living being at the cellular level, opening the door to exciting possibilities in the ultra-early detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Some of the applications that Center researchers are currently working on include the following noninvasive detection and treatment methods:

  • Rapid molecular diagnosis of ischemic chest pain in the ER
  • Detection of high-risk atherosclerosis plaques
  • Evaluation of stents
  • Gene therapy

To learn more, please visit the Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics website.

Microbubbles.

Microbubbles are tiny inert gaseous bubbles that are injected into the blood stream. When ultrasound imaging is applied, they can be visualized. Dr. Villanueva and her colleagues worked to engineer a specific type of microbubble that clings to damaged tissue in the blood vessel walls, allowing the researchers to see clearly damaged areas on screen.

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