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Posted in | Nanomaterials

Nanosight's Nanoparticle Detection Technology Assisting in the Early Prediction of Pre-Eclampsia.

Published on January 22, 2009 at 4:20 AM

NanoSight's unique particle by particle technology is showing promise at detecting nanoparticles in blood that may prove to be predictors for pre-eclampsia. Professor of Reproductive Sciences Ian Sargent of the University of Oxford, based at the Women's Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital is leading a team looking at prediction and early diagnosis of pre-eclampsia.

Professor Ian Sargent with his lead researcher, Rebecca Dragovic, and their NanoSight LM10 system.

Professor Sargent comments “There is no other condition in maternity that so greatly threatens both mother and child. In the UK alone, pre-eclampsia requires induction of between 7,000 and 12,000 premature births annually and the condition is common to around 4% of pregnancies. The condition occurs at any time after mid-pregnancy, is symptomless for most of its course and is relentlessly progressive. Additionally, it is unpredictable”.

Professor Sargent’s work, supported by the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre through funding from the Department of Health's NIHR, encompasses a range of candidate biomarkers. In addition to well-documented blood-based expressed proteins are microparticles (100 – 1,000nm) and exosomes (30-100nm). These are nanoscale vesicles released by the placenta and maternal blood and endothelial cells. Whilst high levels of these particles are observed to coincide with the onset of pre-eclampsia, their detection is a challenge.

Professor Sargent again: “Our aim is to count and size the microparticles and exosomes present in the mother’s blood. Ultracentrifugation fails to separate the smaller exosomes adequately as they have similar density to the background plasma. Neither can these exosomes be detected with flow cytometry, which is essentially limited to sizes greater than 500nm. NanoSight, however, can uniquely detect and then size these disparate populations rapidly and with particle-by-particle resolution.”

NanoSight’s CTO, Dr Bob Carr, comments “These early outcomes are encouraging, but there is much work to do in improving this methodology. What is gratifying for NanoSight is to have a user present us with such an exciting new application opportunity previously unknown to us. This has come about through some lateral thought on the part of a third party, in this case Professor Peter Dobson at the University of Oxford’s Begbroke Science Park, who knew of Ian’s challenges and NanoSight’s detection capability”.

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