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Magnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Cellular and Molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles offer the potential to experimentally investigate disease mechanisms in living organisms using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and to use these insights for developing new disease-specific noninvasive diagnostic approaches for MRI. In this setting, our Clinical Research Group, which comprises nine subprojects, investigates a novel type of nanoparticles, so-called monomer-coated iron oxide nanoparticles. These particles were developed by our group to the stage of early clinical phase trials. Three of the subprojects investigate these particles (radiology), based on current insights and concepts, in order to develop different nonspecific and specific monomer-coated iron oxide nanoparticles for molecular and cellular MRI. Two cardiovascular subprojects (radiology, cardiology) perform in vitro and in vivo investigations to study new approaches for the early identification of dangerous atherosclerotic lesions using different monomer-coated iron oxide nanoparticles. Such lesions are the main cause of sudden cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction or stroke. Three neuroscientific subprojects (neurology, neuroimmunology, neuroanatomy) use different monomer-coated iron oxide nanoparticles to investigate mechanisms of inflammation and neovascularization in models of multiple sclerosis, stroke, and glioblastoma and to study in vivo MRI for visualizing the migration of specific immunocompetent cells in the central nervous system. These experiments aim at developing new approaches for the early diagnosis of various CNS diseases. The physical subproject (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt) develops a new measuring technique on the basis of SQUID magnetometry, which allows highly sensitive and spatially resolved detection and quantification of the very small magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles under investigation. This new technique is developed to overcome the problem of inadequate quantification of magnetic nanoparticles in the setting of cellular and molecular MRI and is in particular expected to better capture the effects of treatment. A central subproject addresses issues concerning all other subprojects, primarily the standardized production and analysis of the nanoparticles. This is crucial for the intended translation of the experimental approaches into clinical development.