A team of scientists from INEB-Instituto de Engenharia Biomédica has developed an original tool to quantify the size of heart ischemia in pre-clinical animal models. The MIQuant, acronym for myocardial infarct (MI) quantification, is user-friendly semi-automated software and is made freely available online to contribute towards the standardization and simplification of infarct size assessment. This innovation takes advantage of earlier methods of planimetry for assessment of MI size and promises more accurate and faster evaluation of new heart regeneration therapies.
As team leader Perpétua Pinto-do-Ó, Ph.D., of INEB explains, "This development is a great illustration of where communication between different scientific languages can lead us. Sometimes biologists, physicians and engineers waste the opportunity for novel improvements due to the difficulties to translate their problems and questions. It took us time, but we found here just the right platform to smoothen our differences which resulted in an application that will be useful not only to our Lab but to the whole of the experimental cardiovascular community."
Diana S. Nascimento, PhD, first author to the paper published September 30 in PLoS ONE online, summed it up: "At the time we were implementing from scratch our work in the cardiac system and it was after establishing a mouse model of myocardial infarction that we were confronted with the huge amount of time and variability on the infarct analysis. We just had to take some action!"
Therefore, the team started two years ago -- in collaboration with Pedro Quelhas, Ph.D., INEB-FEUP -- designing a tool to address the main constrains found while developing research on the role of stem/progenitors cells have on cardiac regeneration and repair: the laborious time-consuming and highly variable methods available for the assessment of infarct size measurements in a mouse model of myocardial infarction. The purpose has been to automate the process just enough to promote standardization. From the discussion within this multidisciplinary project it was evident that a semi-automated method allowing for some kind of intervening by the biologist was more likely to be accepted in the area. However, the engineers in the team do not exclude future developments towards the full automation. These and a few other improvements on the pipeline will deserve attention and be tested by using the in vivo data in Pinto-do-Ó' Team.
"Basically, any laboratory that works in experimental cardiovascular therapies using small rodents as models can take profit of the MIQuant software. In this way we expect to contribute towards the standardization of infarct size assessment across studies and, therefore, to systematization of the evaluation of cardiac regenerative potential in emerging therapies," concludes Pinto-do-Ó.
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