Philips Research and the University of Urbino (Urbino, Italy) have signed a research agreement to study the encapsulation of magnetic nanoparticle contrast agents inside living blood cells to prolong the retention time of these agents in the blood.
Injected as free particles, magnetic nanoparticle contrast agents are quickly excreted from the blood via the patient's liver, which limits their application. During the collaboration, the University of Urbino will investigate the integration of magnetic nanoparticles into red blood cells and their biological interactions in the human body, while Philips Research will evaluate the properties of these contrast agents in its medical scanners.
The collaboration between Philips Research and the University of Urbino will last for approximately two and a half years, with expected initial applications in the treatment of cardiovascular disease – one of the biggest killers in the western world.
"Nanoparticle blood pool contrast agents have already shown considerable promise in diagnostic imaging, but the short retention time of these particles in the body has always been a real challenge," says Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the Healthcare Research program. "Together with the unique expertise of the researchers at the University of Urbino we hope to increase the retention time of these particles from minutes to hours or even days, as this would open up applications such as the image-based monitoring of complex cardiovascular interventions that can take several hours to complete."
This healthcare research alliance follows the recently announced partnerships with West China Hospital in China, the University Medical Centers of Maastricht (the Netherlands) and Aachen (Germany), and the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and is part of Philips' increased commitment to developing solutions for improved patient care. A key success factor for this ambition is the effective translation from new concepts into clinical practice, which requires partnerships with leading academic and medical institutions. Bringing together such partnerships is one of the underlying principles behind Philips’ policy of open innovation.
“Our close collaboration with Philips should speed the translation of our invention into clinical practice,” comments Professor Mauro Magnani, Vice-Rector of the University of Urbino and a project leader of the EU FP6 funded NACBO (Novel and Improved Nanomaterials, Chemistries and Apparatus for Nano-Biotechnology) project. “With our technology, the use of new biomimetic constructs that merge the properties of nanomaterials with those of living cells is finally possible, bringing the real advantages of nanomaterials for therapeutic and diagnostic applications to patients.”