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Biofunctionalized Metal and Magnetic Nanoparticles for Targeted Tumor Therapy

Periodic Report Summary - NANO3T (Biofunctionalized metal and magnetic nanoparticles for targeted tumour therapy)

In the present NANO3T proposal, we have selected the challenging application of nanoparticles as agents for hyperthermia-based cancer therapy. From the expertise of the researchers who form our consortium, we are in an ideal position to analyse various aspects of the therapeutic application of nanoparticles. These aspects range from the nanoparticles themselves to the instrumentation for the application as well as toxicity and efficacy studies.

In the present multi-disciplinary NANO3T project we have developed and to explored thoroughly various metal and magnetic biofunctionalised nanoparticles as agents for targeted tumour therapy. A successful integration and convergence of different technologies at the nanoscale is reached.

We have developed novel synthesis routes and tailored designed and tuneable biofunctionalised nanoparticles for hyperthermia. All proposed ligands have been synthesised and are actually tested in vitro and in vivo. A physical and chemical characterisation of the synthesised engineered nanostructures has been achieved. A toxicological as well as a biological evaluation of the different nanoparticles is underway. Also a detailed exploration and characterisation of the interaction mechanism of the biological entities and the bio/non-bio nanostructures has started and first results are obtained. In addition, this project also comprises the design of advanced instrumentation and devices that can be used for a controlled hyperthermia treatment.

As the work has proceeded it has apparently become clearer that a number of aspects of the original objectives may be difficult to reach with the knowledge available in the consortium, especially those pertaining to the targeting of the NPs to prostate tumours and pancreatic tumours in vivo. A lot of basic research is apparently required to understand the issues involved as well as the influence and efficacy of the targeting ligands (e.g. antibodies etc) and possible toxicity involved.

This indicates a partial shift in emphasis of the research objectives to a 'proof of concept' type of work, and therefore the exploitation potential of the project may be lower than envisaged in the proposal, at least within the time-frame specified in the proposal. Some results are now expected to be mainly confirmation of 'basic concepts' at a much more 'up-stream' position than originally planned and eventual exploitation of the NPs for hyperthermia may take many years. This is due to many unknown parameters with respect to the nanoparticle-coatings (ligands/markers), interactions and their targeting efficacy and stability in vivo.