EU study using nanoparticles, low-dose radiation to aid companion diagnostics in battling cancer

The European Union is funding a consortium that is looking into combining synthetic nanoparticles or antibodies with low-level radioactive substances to improve the use of companion diagnostics in battling cancer and other diseases.

The study, which is being funded for €6 million ($6.4 million) over the next 5 years, is designed to introduce nanomedicines into the body, where they can either actively or passively accumulate in certain organisms or cells, according to a statement. Then a short half-life radionuclide is introduced and encounters the nanoparticles causing a chemical reaction that binds the two together.

Researchers hope that combination will allow them to use imaging techniques to pinpoint where the nanoparticles are located and if they have an effect on the disease pathology.

"The system we are proposing would allow us to do far more than simply determine exactly where the nanoparticles are in the body," Dr. Matthias Barz of the Institute of Organic Chemistry at Mainz University, told the publication. "There is the imaging factor that will allow us to see where our nanoparticles with their specific function are located in the body. And, eventually, it should at some point be possible to use our approach in radiotherapy--making it truly unique."

The group, which includes physicians and clinicians from Copenhagen, chemists from TU Wien, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, and commercial partners from Austria and the Netherlands, is hoping to improve companion diagnostics while reducing patient exposure to radioactive diagnostics tools.

Companion diagnostics are designed to assess medications before they are used on patients to help determine who would most likely benefit from a specific treatment.

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