Belfast firm aids research into blood-vessel disease

14 Oct 2009

A Belfast company has just achieved a major breakthrough that could transform the understanding of blood-vessel disease.

The first pictures of intercellular calcium signalling in blood-vessel walls has been captured with a high-speed, laser-spinning disk system equipped with an ultrasensitive digital camera by Belfast-based Andor Technology.

Research by US team

Calcium signalling between the cells that line the blood vessels and the surrounding smooth muscle is vital for blood flow and the regulation of blood pressure.  This study, led by Prof Mark Nelson from the University of Vermont and Prof Michael Kotlikoff from Cornell University, therefore provides insight into blood-vessel disease.

Nelson attributes the team’s success to the Andor laser confocal system and a new tissue model developed by Kotiloff’s team.

“The signals are hard to pick out unless you know what you’re looking for and have a good camera that is fast enough,” Nelson said.  

“The calcium events last for less than half a second. They also occur in a very small volume so you have to have both the spatial and temporal resolution to see them. The Andor system has exceptional sensitivity, critical to image critical but very small signals which control the function of living cells.”

Photo: A camera by Belfast-based Andor Technology has helped US researchers tap into blood-vessel disease.