Responsive Contrast: The group are actively engaged in the design and synthesis of a range of high contrast T1 and T2 responsive imaging agents, based on molecules as well as nanoparticles, many of which are tuneable and highly luminescent. The multifunctional capabilities of these agents are under investigation and their interactions with live cells as tracking, targeting and therapeutic agents are an area of interest. A Wellcome Trust grant sponsors the engineering of proton and fluorine contrast vehicles for stem cell tracking.
The development of nanomaterials as multifunctional targeted therapeutic and diagnostic (theranostic) imaging agents has become increasingly important in recent years, potentially providing powerful, sensitised means of co-localising physiological/disease status and anatomy, tracking and delineation of multiple markers and subsequent or simultaneous highly localised treatment. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful non-invasive medical technique which becomes considerably more potent when contrast agents are applied. Mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSN) can be loaded with gadolinium chelates and have demonstrated the highest protic relaxivities of MSN-based contrast agents to date at low Gd(III) loadings. A range of Imaging agents capable of reporting on their local biochemical environment through a stimuli-triggered ‘on/off’ switching response are being designed and characterised.
Delivery Systems: The ability to deliver functionally competent proteins or nucleic acids to the
appropriate organelles of live cells constitutes a highly effective therapeutic modality that can be matched with an ability to chemically control nanoparticle uptake and subcellular
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