Nanoparticles for Advanced Medical Diagnosis Through Non-Invasive In Vivo Imaging Techniques - Supplier Data By Nanovic

Topics Covered

Background
Current Constraints
Use of Nanotechnology
Application
Victorian Activities
Cardiovascular Disease Diagnosis

Background

While medical science continues to make significant progress in treatment of most major diseases and ailments, early diagnosis of cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases remains the single most important contributor to therapies. The ability to detect cancerous growths in the body before the cells multiply and spread is critical to effective intervention. Medical technology companies are now turning to a new set of nanotechnologies which may allow detection years earlier than current methods.

Current Constraints

Current non-invasive in vivo - within the body, rather than using extracted tissue samples - imaging techniques often rely on the oral or intravenous administration of signal amplification agents, which help to produce more detailed and distinctive images of diseased tissue. However early stage disease diagnosis is often ineffective, due to issues such as the following:

  • Low sensitivity of many agents means they cannot detect small amounts of diseased tissue.
  • The agents can degrade, which means more regular and higher doses must be administered.
  • Poor specificity of agents towards target cells can result in delivery to healthy tissues; this may lead to toxicity problems.

Use of Nanotechnology

The use of nanoparticles as novel amplification agents is believed to offer many advantages. The ability to functionalise polymer-coated nano-shells, dendrimers and gold nanospheres could enable specific, site-targeted delivery of agents and drugs. Due to their inherently small size uptake of these materials into cells of interest may be significantly easier. This should lead to lower dose requirements and also significant signal amplification, providing the ability to detect, for example primary tumours or atherosclerotic plaques at a much earlier stage of development.

Application

The nanoparticles are then used in conjunction with established imaging techniques such as Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Companies such as Pfizer, Schering AG and The Dow Chemical Company are involved in the development of nanoparticle agents and enabling major advancements in molecular imaging.

Victorian Activities

Victoria and Australia have well-recognized capabilities, both in the development of medical diagnostic and therapeutic systems, and in the preparation of novel nanoscale particles. A number of teams have already developed important technologies which will allow development of next-generation imaging, for example the encapsulated nanoparticle systems of Professor Frank Caruso at the University of Melbourne, the multifunctional polymer particles of Professor Gareth Forde at Monash University, and Professor Paul Mulvaney's synthesis of fluorescent nanoparticles (quantum dots). Nanotechnology Victoria has recognised the importance of these technologies and is preparing to launch a major initiative in the field of in vivo imaging, which captures some of the major recent developments, and could ultimately result in a commercial product for global markets.

Cardiovascular Disease Diagnosis

One particular focus area for NanoVic will be the use of these emerging technologies for diagnosis of early stage cardiovascular disease, which affected over 3.7 million Australians in 2004; this figure is predicted to double by 2014. Government spending to cover direct costs associated with heart failure alone is currently in the region of $4 billion per annum. It is envisaged that the use of bio-functionalised nanospheres loaded with contrast agents will enable early detection of diseased blood vessels. The administration of effective preventative treatments to patients at high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases could reduce the incidence of acute events such as stroke and heart failure and have major impact on associated healthcare costs.

Source: NanoVic

For more information on this source please visit NanoVic.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Submit