FYI from the NHLBI Index

Janauary 2006: Vol. 6, Issue 3
In the News

News from Capitol Hill

Recent Advances from the NHLBI

  • Measuring Iron Levels in Patients with Transfusion-Dependent Hemoglobin Disorders
  • Free-Breathing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)


News from Capitol Hill

Public Laws

Capitol DomeOn December 20, the President signed the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-129), which creates a new Federal program to prepare, store, and distribute human umbilical cord blood stem cells for the treatment of patients and for peer-reviewed research. The program, called the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program, will be administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

With passage of H.R. 3010, Congress agreed to provide the NHLBI with a 0.3 percent increase over the $2,941,201,000 that it received in fiscal year (FY) 2005. However, passage of a separate bill (H.R. 2863) reduced the budget of many federal programs or agencies—including NIH Institutes and Centers—by 1 percent and resulted in a final FY 2006 appropriation of $2,921,757,000 for the NHLBI. On December 30, the President approved the FY 2006 appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Resolutions

Resolutions were introduced in support of National Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Week. The House passed its version on September 29. The Senate version has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The House passed a resolution (H. Res. 220) on October 25 recognizing America's Blood Centers for their commitment to providing a safe and adequate donor blood supply. In December, resolutions (H. Res. 629 and S. Con. Res. 69) were introduced to support the Day of Hearts, Congenital Heart Defect Day. The resolutions have been referred to the House Committee on Government Reform and the Senate HELP Committee.

Hearings

On December 8, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing titled Improving America's Health: Examining Federal Research Efforts for Pulmonary Hypertension and Chronic Pain. Witnesses discussed pulmonary hypertension and described issues that affect soldiers who are injured during combat and challenges in treating patients who are disabled by chronic pain. More information is available online at http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/Hearings/12082005hearing1734/hearing.htm.

Modified 6/20/06
[Back to Top]
[Table of Contents]

Recent Advances from the NHLBI

Measuring Iron Levels in Patients with Transfusion-Dependent Hemoglobin Disorders

A new, noninvasive approach for measuring iron deposits in human tissue may lead to better clinical care and new therapies. Thousands of patients who regularly receive blood transfusions as treatment for sickle cell disease or beta-thalassemia must undergo chelation therapy to prevent iron-induced organ damage, and their iron levels are monitored regularly with liver biopsies and blood tests. However, heart failure caused by toxic amounts of iron remains a significant, often fatal, consequence of regular blood transfusions. The new approach, which relies on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can accurately measure iron accumulation in the liver, and possibly in other organs such as the heart. The MRI screening method is expected to allow clinicians to detect toxic iron accumulation before heart tissue is irreversibly damaged and, because it is non-invasive, to be better tolerated by patients. It also has value as a research tool: the NHLBI Thalassemia Clinical Research Network plans to use the technique to evaluate a new chelation regimen that may better prevent iron toxicity in cardiac tissue.

Modified 6/20/06
[Back to Top]
[Table of Contents]

Free-Breathing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Cardiac MRI can be used to assess myocardial damage after a heart attack, but patients must hold their breath during the scan—a maneuver that is difficult for many people with cardiorespiratory ailments. A new cardiac MRI technique developed by NIH intramural scientists allows patients to undergo cardiac MRI while breathing freely. The method uses an innovative computer algorithm to remove respiratory motion artifacts before averaging several images of the heart to create a single image. When the researchers compared the conventional breath-held imaging method with their free-breathing method, they found that the new approach produced images of comparable quality in the same amount of time. Moreover, when used to measure the size of an area of damaged heart muscle caused by a heart attack, the two methods gave similar results. The new technique shows promise for making cardiac MRI available to a wider range of patients.

Modified 6/20/06
[Back to Top]
[Table of Contents]

Please send us your feedback, comments, and questions by using the appropriate link on the page, Contact the NHLBI.

Note to users of screen readers and other assistive technologies: please report your problems here.


PDF Version | Contents | Feature Articles | In the News | Events and Meetings | Research and Resources

All Issues | FYI Index | NHLBI Express




Twitter iconTwitterExternal link Disclaimer         Facebook iconFacebookimage of external link icon         YouTube iconYouTubeimage of external link icon         Google+ iconGoogle+image of external link icon