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Nanotechnology delivers safer MRI contrast agent to image clots

A novel toroidal-shaped nanoparticle provides a nanotech way to image blood clots without using magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents that are toxic to some patients. From Washington University in St. Louis (via ScienceDaily) “New disease-fighting nanoparticles look like miniature pastries“, written by Gwen Ericson:

Ultra-miniature bialy-shaped particles — called nanobialys because they resemble tiny versions of the flat, onion-topped rolls popular in New York City — could soon be carrying medicinal compounds through patients’ bloodstreams to tumors or atherosclerotic plaques.

The nanobialys are an important addition to the stock of diagnostic and disease-fighting nanoparticles developed by researchers in the Consortium for Translational Research in Advanced Imaging and Nanomedicine (C-TRAIN) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. C-TRAIN’s “smart” nanoparticles can deliver drugs and imaging agents directly to the site of tumors and plaques.

The new nanobialys weren’t cooked up for their appealing shape — that’s a natural result of the manufacturing process. The nanobialys answered a need for an alternative to the research group’s gadolinium-containing nanoparticles, which were created for their high visibility in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Gadolinium is a common contrast agent for MRI scans, but recent studies have shown that it can be harmful to some patients with severe kidney disease.

“The nanobialys contain manganese instead of gadolinium,” says first author Dipanjan Pan, Ph.D., research instructor in medicine in the Cardiovascular Division. “Manganese is an element found naturally in the body. In addition, the manganese in the nanobialys is tied up so it stays with the particles, making them very safe.”

The bulk of a nanobialy is a synthetic polymer that can accept a variety of medical, imaging or targeting components. In the July 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (abstract) the researchers report that targeted manganese-carrying nanobialys readily attached themselves to fibrin molecules, which are found in atherosclerotic plaques and blood clots. Laboratory-made clots then glowed brightly in MRI scans. They also showed that the nanobialys could carry both water-soluble and insoluble drugs.

—Jim

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