Based on the clinical unmet needs and recent research in biomarkers on Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA) the main objective of the project is to develop a nanotechnology based novel diagnostic tool for easy and early detection of biomarkers in inflammatory diseases especially RA and OA by using modified superparamagnetic nanoparticles (SPION) for (A) bioassay (ex-vivo application) and (B) MRI (in-vivo detection). A new technology based on multiple functionalized single nanoparticles specifically entering/attaching to cells, to enzymes in serous fluids or organelles in living cells will be used to detect, separate and identify low abundance biomarkers. Newly identified biomarkers will be used to decorate SPION with binding moieties which are specific to the biomarker(s) and can be used diagnostically such as in contrast agents (MRI). A sensitive micro-immunoassay will be developed for special use of these particles in biochemical tests for arthritis. This project is driven by the high clinical need to identify early arthritis and then segment RA and OA patients into progressors/responders or non-progressors/-responders to various treatment options. Inflammatory disorders like RA inducing the destruction of cartilage in ≈ 1% of the population which is accompanied by significant pain, morbidity and mortality leads to reduced capacity to work. OA, a degenerative arthritis is the leading cause of disability among the elderly population. As there is no cure for RA and finally the replacement of e.g. the knee in OA, early diagnostic tools for the detection of the disease progression and the ability to evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic interventions are necessary u.a. for drug development. Existing diagnostic methods often do not permit an early definite diagnosis, so new nanoparticle based diagnostic techniques targeting to the detection of molecular events (based on MRI) with higher sensitivity/specificity will be developed to satisfy the urgent need.
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