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Latest Issue
May/Jun 2023

Clearing arterial plaques

Nearly 18 million people died of cardiovascular disease worldwide in 2019, according to the World Health Organization. The biggest contributing factors are largely preventable — high blood pressure, diets with high fat and cholesterol content, smoking, excessive intake of alcohol and sugar, and sedentary lifestyles. Many of these behaviors contribute to the buildup of arterial plaques. Fortunately, doctors have an array of technologies at their disposal, including laser-based therapies to treat patients who are at risk of falling victim to this global health crisis.

Of course, laser therapeutics of cardiovascular disease and arteriosclerosis must be considered along with a number of commonly used alternatives, such as balloon angioplasty, stent implantation, bypass surgery, and the use of artificial pacemakers. But the cardiovascular laser market is still expected to reach $0.66 billion in 2026, at a compound annual growth rate of 45.6%, according to Research and Markets. This market includes manufacturers, distributors, and end users, and it is provided with excimer and carbon dioxide lasers, as well as complementary components that support laser systems.

My cover story on cardiovascular applications of lasers in this cardiology-themed edition of BioPhotonics regards that the desire for precise diagnoses and treatment, as well as the development of fiber-based catheterization, has provided the impetus for the development of laser instrumentation to reach directly to the area that needs treatment — where partial or full blockages exist in the arteries. While some of the most severe cases of arterial plaques, called chronic total occlusions (total blockages), have previously been addressed by invasive surgery, methods such as excimer laser coronary angioplasty use fiber laser pulses to break down the molecular bonds of the plaques, which are composed of lipids, proteins, and cholesterol. Read more about how lasers are literally cutting through some of the worst cases of cardiovascular disease here.

Also in this issue, Radhika Poduval and Guillermo Tearney explore the use of optical coherence tomography via a catheter to provide structural information about coronary plaques. Garner their insights on page 47. Nicholas Giglio, Samantha Farrow, Kavya Sreeram, and Stephanie Grainger discuss how intravascular ultrasound near-infrared spectroscopy can reveal the content of plaques that are in danger of rupturing. Get the facts on this potentially life-saving technology here.

Meanwhile, Anne Buglione and Nozomi Nishimura write about how two-photon microscopy has proved itself to be capable of capturing fluorescent indicators of cellular activity, which can be applied to dynamic heart functioning. Learn more here. And Igor Efimov and Philipp Gutruf write about the use of optogenetics to treat arrhythmia via a technique that could potentially supplant electrical stimulation or defibrillation. Find out what the future may hold here.

In “Biopinion,” Laura Marcu and Christos Bourantas argue that the medical community must generate more robust studies of multimodal intravascular imaging techniques to guide the effective treatment of cardiovascular disease. Read about their perspective here.

Enjoy the issue!
Mike Wheeler
As editor-in-chief, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonics Media's editorial operations — spanning print, web, and podcasts. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advancements in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Dan McCarthy
Senior editor Dan McCarthy manages editorial content and production for Photonics Spectra. An award-winning writer and editor, he has communicated the progress and practical value of advanced technologies for over two decades.
Doug Farmer
Senior Editor Douglas Farmer has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, winning awards for health and education reporting. He has a master's degree in journalism from Ball State University. He is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics magazines.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
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