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Washington U med school researchers develop “smart” nanoparticles for drug delivery


By David Schwartz
Published: August 6th, 2008

“Smart” nanoparticles that can deliver drugs are in development in labs worldwide, but researchers at Washington University of St. Louis School of Medicine have added a new twist. Their new particles are called “nanobialys” because they resemble tiny versions of the flat, onion-topped breadrolls called bialys popular in New York City. Developed by scientists with the med school’s Consortium for Translational Research in Advanced Imaging and Nanomedicine, the particles 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 researcher Dipanjan Pan, PhD. “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.” In the July issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, 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. Gadolinium has recently been linked to nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), and doctors have soured on using it as a contrast agent, especially among those with renal conditions. “A lot of patients with diabetes or hypertension develop renal failure, so that decision potentially affects many people. Our goal has always been that our nanoparticle technology should be able to help everyone. And with a growing number of people having diabetes and related cardiovascular problems, we knew we needed to find a substitute for gadolinium-based particles – nanobialys are our first step in that direction,” Pan reports. Go to: Science Daily

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