A single device was able to carry a therapeutic and multiple imaging agents, according to paper in Angewandte Chemie.

Scientists have a developed nanometer-sized delivery tool for anticancer agents that goes undetected by the immune system as it passes through the bloodstream. They say that these devices integrate therapeutic and diagnostic functions into a single system.

The researchers constructed this nanodevice from lipids modified to enable them to circulate in the bloodstream for many hours before being eliminated. This was demonstrated by the researchers in a series of experiments with mice, according to the team.

The material was also designed to be strong enough to prevent accidental release of its cargo while circulating through the bloodstream. A protein called F3, which sticks to cancer cells, is attached to the surface of the device. F3 was engineered to specifically home in on tumor cell surfaces and then transport itself into their nuclei.

The scientists loaded these devices with three payloads before injecting them in the mice. Two types of nanoparticles, superparamagnetic iron oxide and fluorescent quantum dots, were placed  along with the doxorubicin.

The team found that a single device can carry multiple iron oxide nanoparticles, which increases their brightness in the MRI image. While others are developing hybrid nanosystems that contain multiple types of nanoparticles, the researchers on this study say that this technique has been limited to in vivo imaging and therapy.

“That’s because of the poor stability and short circulation times within the blood generally observed for these more complicated nanostructures,” explains Michael Sailor, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, who headed the team.

“This study provides the first example of a single nanomaterial used for simultaneous drug delivery and multimode imaging of diseased tissue in a live animal,” says Ji-Ho Park, a graduate student in Sailor’s laboratory who was part of the team.
The researchers are now working on developing ways to chemically treat the exteriors of the nano devices with specific chemical “zip codes,” which will allow them to be delivered to specific tumors, organs, and other sites in the body.

Researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara and MIT also participated in this study. It will be described online in the Angewandte Chemie.

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