Philips in partnership with University of Urbino to develop magnetic
nanoparticle contrast agents for blood cells
29 September 2008
Philips Research and the University of Urbino (Urbino, Italy) have
signed a research agreement to study the encapsulation of magnetic
nanoparticle contrast agents inside living blood cells to prolong the
retention time of these agents in the blood.
Injected as free particles, magnetic nanoparticle contrast agents are
quickly excreted from the blood via the patient’s liver, which limits
their application. During the collaboration, the University of Urbino
will investigate the integration of magnetic nanoparticles into red
blood cells and their biological interactions in the human body, while
Philips Research will evaluate the properties of these contrast agents
in its medical scanners.
Graphic of encapsulation of magnetic nanoparticles inside
The collaboration between Philips Research and the University of
Urbino will last for approximately two and a half years, with expected
initial applications in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
"Nanoparticle blood pool contrast agents have already shown
considerable promise in diagnostic imaging, but the short retention time
of these particles in the body has always been a real challenge," says
Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of
the Healthcare Research program.
"Together with the unique expertise of the researchers at the
University of Urbino we hope to increase the retention time of these
particles from minutes to hours or even days, as this would open up
applications such as the image-based monitoring of complex
cardiovascular interventions that can take several hours to complete."
This healthcare research alliance follows the recently announced
partnerships with West China Hospital in China, the University Medical
Centers of Maastricht (the Netherlands) and Aachen (Germany), and the
University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and is part of
Philips' increased commitment to developing solutions for improved
A key success factor for this ambition is the effective translation
from new concepts into clinical practice, which requires partnerships
with leading academic and medical institutions. Bringing together such
partnerships is one of the underlying principles behind Philips’ policy
of open innovation.
“Our close collaboration with Philips should speed the translation of
our invention into clinical practice,” comments Professor Mauro Magnani,
Vice-Rector of the University of Urbino and a project leader of the EU
FP6 funded NACBO (Novel and Improved Nanomaterials, Chemistries and
Apparatus for Nano-Biotechnology) project.
“With our technology, the use of new biomimetic constructs that merge
the properties of nanomaterials with those of living cells is finally
possible, bringing the real advantages of nanomaterials for therapeutic
and diagnostic applications to patients.”