Our research aims towards the development of novel, targeted molecular imaging agents for provision of better, faster and less invasive imaging of atherosclerosis. Our anticipated imaging techniques include PET-, MR- and US-imaging.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in Sweden (41% of all deaths) as well as in the rest of the western world and it is also on the rise in the developing countries. This is mainly owing to the increasing prevalence of atherosclerosis and a widespread under-recognition of patients with risk factors for this disease. The traditional gold standard for diagnosing of narrowing of the artery lumen is X-ray angiography which is one of several invasive catheter-based techniques. These types of techniques can mainly, and at an advanced stage of disease, image the vessel lumen but not the cellular composition of an atherosclerotic plaque and cannot distinguish stable from unstable lesions. Recent research also shows increasing evidences that plaque composition of inflammatory cells rather than plaque size is related to the risk of plaque rupture. The need for new imaging techniques, able to early detect unstable atherosclerotic plaques with better precision and accuracy and to image the cellular components important for formation and progression of these plaques, are therefore of urgent importance.