Posted in | Nanomedicine | Nanomaterials

NanoSight to Develop Novel Instrumentation Aimed at Measuring Cellular Nanoparticles in Plasma and Urine

Published on May 21, 2009 at 5:23 AM

NanoSight, manufacturers of unique nanoparticle characterization technology, are very proud to announce their close involvement in the research and development of a new generation of novel instrumentation and methodologies aimed at measuring cellular nanoparticles in plasma and urine as biomarkers of a broad range of human disease conditions.

The John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. (photograph credit: Oxford Medical Illustration)

The research will be led by a world-class team from the University of Oxford which has recently been awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Technology Development Grant to work on the detection and characterisation of nanoparticles in the early detection of human disease. The team, which is led by Professor Ian Sargent at the Women's Centre of the John Radcliffe Hospital and is part of the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, includes Professor Chris Redman (Obstetrics and Gynaecology), Dr Paul Harrison (Haemophilia and Thrombosis Centre), Professor Adrian Harris (Cancer Research UK) and Professor Peter Dobson (Begbroke Science Park). Other collaborators include Dr Leanne Hodson and Dr Frederick Karpe of the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism.

This exciting project involves the detection in the bloodstream of tiny fragments of cells, microparticles (100nm -1µm) and exosomes (30nm - 100nm), which are important for how cells communicate with each other. The numbers of these particles have been found to be significantly raised in the blood of patients with a number of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, pre-eclampsia, clotting problems and cancer, raising the possibility that measuring these particles in blood could be used to predict those at risk. However, their detection and size distribution measurement pose considerable challenges.

Alerted to NanoSight’s capabilities by Professor Dobson who recognised the fit between Professor Sargent’s needs and the NanoSight technology of which he was an early adopter, the Oxford group discussed their requirements with NanoSight’s scientists and, following very promising initial results, successfully applied for and were awarded £322,000 of Wellcome Trust funding in support of this important 3 year project.

Based on their innovative technology and capabilities, a novel fluorescence variant of NanoSight’s existing instrumentation will be developed by NanoSight in collaboration with the Oxford scientists to enable these micro- and nanoparticles to be detected and characterised in plasma and urine samples for the first time. By breaking through the limitations of existing fluorescence microparticle technology (such a flow cytometry) NanoSight hope to help open up a new class of diagnostic biomarkers in the fight against some of the most common and important diseases to afflict humans.

The Wellcome Trust is the most diverse biomedical research charity in the world and spends over £600 million every year both in the UK and internationally achieving their mission of supporting and promoting research to improve the health of humans and animals. As Dr Bob Carr, CTO of NanoSight says “the award of this Technology Development grant is aimed at providing support for researchers wishing to develop technologies or to refine existing techniques which should facilitate other research and yield benefits to the wider scientific community. That this prestigious project is based specifically on the potential of NanoSight’s technology to help solve a previously intractable problem is testament to the unique value of the instrumentation that we offer”.

It is noted that only five such Wellcome Trust Technology Development awards were made worldwide in 2007-8 and only one in the year 2006-7.

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