Novel nanoparticles have been created which could help in the early diagnosis of diseases such as thrombosis and vascular inflammation.
Scientists led by Professor Zoe Pikramenou, of Birmingham University, UK, set about creating tiny nanoparticles, smaller than 100 nanometres in size, made from gold.
These nanoparticles can track blood flow through even the smallest capillaries when they are coated in specific substances like the metal iridium.
The team explains that light microscopy is 'a rapidly evolving field for understanding in vivo systems where high resolution is required' as it has a higher resolution and if more informative than ultrasound technologies. Details of their work appeared last week in Nanomedicine.
Professor Pikramenou says: 'The key to these iridium-coated nanoparticles lies in both their small size, and in the characteristic luminescent properties. The iridium gives a luminescent signal in the visible spectrum, providing an optical window which can be detected in blood. It is also long-lived compared to organic fluorophores, while the tiny gold particles are shown to be ideal for tracking flow and be detected clearly in tissues.'
Co-author Professor Gerard Nash added: 'The size of 100 nanometres is ideal for not disturbing the flow, yet still being detectable by high resolution imaging using conventional microscopes. These nanoparticles can be used as trackers for detection in sub-millimetre channels of dimensions similar to many microvessels with higher resolution than fluorescently-stained blood cells.'
Once these nanoparticles enter blood circulation they can be clearly imaged in different organs using fluorescence, the experts add. Next, they hope to develop the nanoparticles for targeted delivery in the body, and for in vivo imaging using near infrared probes.
Source: Nanomedicine 11 October 2017
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