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First-ever 3-D stress map of developing embryonic heart sheds light on why defects form
Date:10/31/2012

or ultrasound," Rollins explains, "except we use infrared light and we image tiny things at really high resolution." The technique has been used to image the interior of blood vessels and is routinely used by ophthalmologists to examine the retina.

"We can use this technique to figure out just how function or dysfunction fits into normal heart development and the development of heart defects," Rollins adds. "An understanding of normal and abnormal development is critical for preventing and treating these defects."

In laboratory experiments, Rollins and colleagues directly measured the heart structure and blood flow within the developing hearts of quail embryos. The data was then used to create 4-D images (basically, 3-D movies), which showed that "locations of high shear correspond with locations of future valve formation," he says. "Now we are investigating the effects of abnormal shear caused by alcohol exposure on valve development."

The researchers hope to take what they have learned from these preliminary animal tests and develop a way to apply this technique to humans. The ultimate goal is to develop a tool that doctors can use to decide if early intervention could put a developing heart back on the right track, preventing a defect.


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Contact: Angela Stark
astark@osa.org
202-416-1443
Optical Society of America
Source:Eurekalert  

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