Nanoparticles for medical imaging

Project Summary

In order to provide effective patient treatment, accurate imaging of disease physiology and biology is a necessity, particularly in the field of oncology.

Currently, a variety of imaging modalities are available for disease staging and monitoring, including ultrasound, CT, MRI and PET. Whereas ultrasound and CT mainly focus on visualising anatomy, MRI also offers the possibility to provide physiological information. Likewise, PET is unprecedented in its ability to acquire biological information. As such, both MRI and PET – increasingly being combined into one apparatus – are emerging as multi-potent imaging modalities and offer great possibilities for medical imaging and clinical research.

To optimally benefit from the favourable features of both imaging techniques, CBNS researchers have been incorporating MRI and/or PET functionalities into novel (radio) pharmaceutical nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles are a highly desirable platform for the development of so-called ‘intelligent’ imaging agents.

Intelligent imaging agents are sensitive to microenvironmental-dependent stimuli, such as subtle changes in pH or temperature, and may have tuneable properties that enable disease or tissue-specific targeting.

Advantageous properties of nanoparticles include their ability to become functionalised with one or more targeting molecules (e.g. antibodies) at a wide range of densities, their potential to enhance imaging intensity by including a large number of imaging moieties within a single nanoparticle at predetermined ratios and their tuneable size and shape, which optimises biodistribution and enhances accumulation via the enhanced permeability and retention effect in tumours.