Research highlight

Nanotechnology: One nanoparticle to rule them all

Nature Communications

August 27, 2014

A flexible nanoparticle design that can be used for eight different biomedical applications is reported in Nature Communications this week. This research, conducted in mice, could potentially further the development of personalised nanomedicine, and patient-specific diagnosis and treatment.

Nanoparticles are promising vehicles for the diagnosis or treatment of diseases and are slowly making their way into the clinic. However, nanoparticles usually have to be adapted and optimised for each application, thereby limiting the usefulness of a single nanoparticle construct.

Kit Lam and colleagues report a simple nanoparticle, called nanoporphyrin, which is based on a single chemical building block. This nanoparticle is remarkably flexible in that it can perform eight different biomedical applications, although not all at the same time. These applications include imaging, such as near-infrared fluorescent imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and dual modal PET-MRI. The nanoporphyrins can further be used for photothermal and photodynamic therapy ? using light to make the nanoparticles heat up or produce oxygen radicals so as to destroy targeted malignant cells ? and are capable of targeted drug delivery.

According to the authors, this is the first report of an organic nanoparticle system that integrates such a broad range of clinically relevant functions in a single formulation. Further research is required to determine whether the system would also work in humans.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms5712

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