Molecular-Specific Photoacoustic Detection of Tissue Composition in Atherosclerotic Plaques Using Plasmonic Nanoparticles

Life Sciences : Therapeutics

Available for licensing


  • Stanislav Emelianov, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Bo Wang, M.S. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Jignesh Shah , Biomedical Engineering
  • Konstantin Sokolov, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering

Invention Description

Macrophages are highly involved in the progress of atherosclerotic plaques. Macrophages located in the artery wall endocytoze the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and form foam cells. Foam cells can form lipid pools under the endothelial layer of the arterial wall, which contribute greatly to the vulnerability of the plaque. Therefore, detection of macrophages benefits the study of the pathology of atherosclerosis and the diagnosis of vulnerable plaques.

Macrophages can be detected by intravascular photoacoustic imaging (IVPA) using gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) as a contrast agent. By recording and analyzing the photoacoustic response of labeled cells, the foam cells and macrophages can be identified.


  • High penetration depth
  • High resolution
  • Non-ionizing imaging modality
  • Detect the activity and location of macrophages in the atherosclerotic plaques
  • No or minimal additional equipment required for therapy


  • Detect macrophage activity in the vulnerable plaques
  • Therapy on vulnerable plaques

Market potential/applications

Companies interested in the treatment of atherosclerotic plaques will be interested in this technology.

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype