Nanomedicine Externally actuated theranostic nanoparticles for cancer diagnosis and controlled drug release

With the incidence of cancer growing every year (predicted to reach 26 million cases by 2030, and cancer already being one of the main causes of death worldwide, there is a clear need for the development of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic platforms. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) due to its non-invasive nature and good resolution is an imaging technique perfectly suited for its application in human healthcare. Its main weakness so far is its low sensitivity, especially when compared with other diagnostic techniques. The development of new contrast agents can help overcome this limitation. On the other hand, current chemotherapeutic cancer treatment schemes rely on a systemic administration of non-specific cytotoxic drugs that present serious adverse side effects on the patients.

Trying to deal with both the need for new contrast agents and new controlled ways to deliver drugs to tumour sites, this project aims to design and prepare a smart nanoparticulate theranostic agent. The nature of the nanoparticles together with a labelling strategy based on use of targeting ligands to accumulate the contrast agent in the tumours, will lead to the visualisation of tumours in their early stages. Moreover, the application of an alternating magnetic field (AMF) to the region of accumulated contrast agents will raise the local temperature (local hyperthermia) and will be used, through purpose designed ligand structures, to release suitable drugs.

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