Interventional Radiology Research Laboratory

Earlier this summer, the BIE cohort had the pleasure of observing various procedures at the UCSF Neurointerventional Radiology center. The team observed several angiograms and aneurysm treatments performed by Dr. Steven Hetts. The professor of radiology invited us again to visit the Interventional Radiology Research lab in the China Basin campus, where the BIE interns got to sit in on their laboratory meeting.

As a professor, Dr. Hetts spends part of his time doing research in neurointerventional radiology. One of his major projects in the lab is the ChemoFilter. Inspired by his work in catheters and treating various blood clots in the brain, the ChemoFilter is as endovascular device. Instead of blood clots, however, the key application of the ChemoFilter is cancer. In treating malignant lesions in the liver, catheters are used to release a chemotherapy agent directly to the blood vessels that lead to the tumor. The excess drug is then captured by the filter, which is a smart membrane that selectively binds to the drug while letting blood pass. The entire process allows for a more specific and concentrated dose of drug in the target organ while limiting systemic toxicity and the associated side effects.

Dr. Hetts and his team are still in the preclinical phase of the ChemoFilter. They work with various animal models such as pigs and rabbits to test the device. The team members are also looking for more ways to filter out the drugs, such as binding the drug to a nanoparticle that can be separated via magnetism. The research group also analyzes greater MRI applications for catheters for interventional MRI work. Dr. Hetts also is looking into magnetic guidewires for smoother steering of the guidewires for the catheters.

After Dr. Hetts presented about his research, the BIE cohort toured the interventional radiology facility. The group got to see the machines used for imaging the animals as well as the design spaces used for building various components of the ChemoFilter. When the brief tour was finished, we wrapped up with a small Q&A session with Dr. Hett’s lab manager, Teri Moore before heading off for another visit later that day.

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