Nanoparticles are being developed for diagnostic imaging, for the early detection of neurological disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The technology is based upon contrast nanoparticles which can be metallic, magnetic or polymeric in nature. These particles can be functionalised with a biological targeting agent such as an antibody and are generally between 10 and 100 nm in diameter.
For the detection of cardiovascular disease, contrast nanoparticles are introduced into the bloodstream. In this example, the particles are targeted towards proteins on the surface of an atherosclerotic plaque. These plaques can lead to blockage of arteries, resulting in events such as strokes or heart attacks.
When the particles bind to the plaque, high loading of the particles can be achieved, due to their small size. When used in conjunction with commonly used techniques such as MRI or PET, the presence of the plaque is detected, visualised here by the luminescent purple colour. By changing the targeting agent on the contrast nanoparticles, it will be possible to detect cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological disease.
Benefits include targeted delivery of contrast agents, which in turn can reduce toxic effects within the body due to lower dosages and no damage to surrounding tissues. Signal amplification can be achieved due to high loading of the particles, which enables earlier detection of diseases. This technology offers clear advantages in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.
For further information contact Dr Jeanette Pritchard at Nanovic
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