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Investigational Study May Help Researchers Develop Test that Predicts Risk of Imminent Heart Attacks

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The study, "Characterization of Circulating Endothelial Cells in Acute Myeloid Infarction," was led by Eric J. Topol, M.D., director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, in collaboration with researchers at Veridex and other hospitals in Southern California.

The study used the Veridex CellSearch® technology to capture circulating endothelial cells (CECs) in 50 myocardial infarction (MI) patients. These cells were further interrogated for protein markers to confirm their endothelial origin by the team at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. It was discovered that MI patients had more than 400 percent more CECs compared to blood samples obtained from the control group of 22 healthy volunteers. Importantly, CECs in the MI patient group had distinct physical abnormalities, such as cell shape and an increased likelihood of having multiple nuclei.

"One person dies every minute as a result of a heart attack here in the U.S.," said Topol. "This initial research could lay the groundwork for a test to identify which individuals are at particular risk of an imminent heart attack."

"Our focus is on the CECs," noted Mark C. Connelly, Ph.D., Director, Cellular Research, Veridex and co-author of the study. "The difference in the shape and high incidence of multiple nuclei in these cells suggest they may possess a unique gene expression profile. The next phase of our research will test this hypothesis and, if it is true, attempt to determine its suitability to detect early warning signs such as subclinical plaque rupture in high-risk patients."