First of its Kind: Peering into the Heart Without Touching


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_That includes University of Houston professor of biomedical engineering Kirill Larin who has developed what he describes as a “frontier technology” that can immediately assess if heart medicine is working and scar tissue healing following a heart attack. _

No biopsies needed, no invasive measures taken. Larin simply peers into the heart using high-resolution optical coherence tomography (OCT), a noninvasive imaging test that uses light waves to take cross-section pictures, usually of the retina. Larin has focused the machine on the heart, a method called optical coherence elastography (OCE), to deduce mechanical properties of tissue. It’s a new field he helped usher in over the past few years.

With Larin at the controls, OCT captures detailed biomechanical properties of heart tissue to determine if the organ is responding to therapies. It could eventually be used to develop and test new treatments for healing the damage after a heart attack. The work was described in the Optical Society journal Biomedical Optics Express.

“For the first time ever, without touching the heart, now we can measure its properties and scar tissue,” said Larin. The National Institutes of Health gave Larin and colleague James F. Martin from Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Heart Institute more than $2 million to continue exploring the science.


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