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Nanotechnology Reviews

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Ed. by Hamblin, Michael R. / Bianco, Alberto / Jin, Rongchao / Köhler, J. Michael / Hudait, Mantu K. / Dai, Ning / Lytton-Jean, Abigail / Xie, Jianping / Bryan, Lynn A. / Thiessen, Rose / Alexiou, Christoph / Lee, Jae-Seung / Delville, Marie-Helene / Yan, Ning / Baretzky, Brigitte / Burg, Thomas P. / Fenniri, Hicham / Yang, Jun / Hosmane, Narayan S. / Dufrene, Yves / Podila, Ramakrishna / Eswaramoorthy, Muthusamy

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Volume 2, Issue 4 (Aug 2013)


Imaging modalities using magnetic nanoparticles – overview of the developments in recent years

Marc Schwarz
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Neuroradiology, University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
  • Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
  • Email
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/ Arnd Dörfler / Tobias Engelhorn / Tobias Struffert / Rainer Tietze
  • Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
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/ Christina Janko
  • Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
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/ Philipp Tripal
  • Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Iwona Cicha / Stephan Dürr
  • Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
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/ Christoph Alexiou
  • Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Stefan Lyer
  • Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
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Published Online: 2013-07-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ntrev-2013-0010


The use of nanoparticles in tumor imaging, molecular imaging, and drug delivery has significantly expanded in the last few years. The relatively new field of “theranostics” combines their capacity for drug delivery with their potential as contrast agents. Depending on the imaging modality used, several types of nanoparticles are available, such as gold for optical imaging or superparamagnetic iron oxide for magnetic resonance imaging. This review will give a short overview of the different types of nanoparticles as well as their development and potential application in recent years. Furthermore, it describes the research on classic imaging modalities as well as on new techniques to image nanoparticles in vivo and focuses on magnetic-based imaging modalities.

Keywords: magnetic particle imaging; magnetorelaxometry; multifunctional nanoparticles; nanoparticles


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About the article

Marc Schwarz

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON): The SEON emerged from Prof. Christoph Alexiou’s working group after he received the first chair for Nanomedicine in Germany, which was endowed by the Else Kröner-Fresenius Stiftung in 2009. The group can look back on more than 15 years of experience in the application of iron oxide nanoparticles in cancer treatment. The favored therapy approach is “magnetic drug targeting”. The main goal of SEON is to enhance cancer treatment and simultaneously reducing the side effects of chemotherapy, by accumulating the nanoparticle-bound drug with strong external magnetic forces. In the nearer past, SEON has broadened its activities to the use of iron oxide particles in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and also in regenerative medicine.

Marc Schwarz studied Biology at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. After finishing his PhD thesis at the Department of Neurosurgery of the University Hospital Erlangen, he stayed as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Neuroradiology and focused on glioma imaging and treatment. Since the SEON and the Department of Neuroradiology started to cooperate, he expanded his field of research to magnetic nanoparticles in cancer therapy and imaging.

Arnd Dörfler

Arnd Dörfler studied Medicine at the University of Heidelberg and at the University of Zurich, he graduated in October 1994, and was promoted to Doctor of Medicine 1 month later. From 1994 to 1997, he worked at the Department of Neurology and at the Department of Neuroradiology at the University Hospital of Heidelberg. In 2002, he qualified as a university lecturer at the Department of Interventional and Diagnostic Radiology of the University Hospital of Essen. Since 2004, he is head of the Department of Neuroradiology at the University Hospital of Erlangen.

Tobias Engelhorn

Tobias Engelhorn studied Medicine at the University of Heidelberg as well as at the Medical School Sanford and graduated in 2000. From 2000 to 2004, he worked at the Department of Radiology and Neuroradiology of the University Hospital of Essen and was promoted to Doctor of Medicine in 2001. Tobias Engelhorn has worked as a senior physician at the Department of Neuroradiology at the University Hospital of Erlangen since 2005. In 2007, he qualified as a university lecturer. Tobias Engelhorn’s scientific work covers preclinical multimodal imaging, experimental radiology, and angiographies.

Tobias Struffert

Tobias Struffert studied Medicine at the Westfälische Wilhelms University of Münster, he graduated in November 1997, and was promoted to Doctor of Medicine in March 1998. From 1998 to 2000, he started his medical career at the University of Aachen (RWTH Aachen) at the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology. At the beginning of 2000, he changed to the Department of Neuroradiology at the University of the Saarland (Homburg/Saar) where he achieved the board certification in radiology and neuroradiology. In 2006, he changed to the Department of Neuroradiology of the University Hospital of the University Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has worked as a senior physician, and since 2010, he is qualified as a university lecturer. His scientific work covers preclinical multimodal CT and MRI, experimental radiology, and especially functional flat-detector CT imaging.

Rainer Tietze

Rainer Tietze studied Food Chemistry at the J.W. Goethe-University in Frankfurt/Main from 1998 to 2002. He did a postgraduate internship at the Federal Institute for Animal Food Production in Kulmbach and at the State Authority for Food Supervision in Kassel. From 2004 to 2007, he worked as a PhD at the Laboratory of Molecular Imaging in the Clinic of Nuclear Medicine at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. There, he developed radiolabeled subtype-selective dopamine receptor ligands for PET. Since 2007, he has been a postdoc in the SEON, Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung Professorship at the ENT-Department of the University Hospital Erlangen, Germany. He is responsible for synthesis and analytics of nanoscaled material.

Christina Janko

Christina Janko studied Biology at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg from 2002 to 2007. After her diploma thesis in 2007, she was a PhD student in the group of Prof. Dr. Martin Herrmann at the Institute of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology at the University Hospital Erlangen from 2007 to 2012. In her dissertation in 2012, she focused on the CRP-mediated effects in the clearance of dying and dead cells. Since 2013, she has worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the group of Prof Dr. Christoph Alexiou in the SEON at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Erlangen, where she analyzes the toxicology of nanoparticles.

Philipp Tripal

Philipp Tripal studied Biology at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. In September 2003, he graduated in the field of Microbiology. From 2003 to 2006, he studied for his PhD within the field of tumor research, which he received in May 2007. From 2007 to 2011, he worked as a postdoctoral research fellow for the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, studying the pharmacologic consequences of antidepressants on neuronal cells. In 2011, he moved back to tumor research. In the Department of Nuclear Medicine, he investigated the use of radioactive, tumor-specific compounds for tumor therapy and cell labeling. In January 2013, he joined the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Erlangen. Within the SEON, he is investigating the use of magnetic nanoparticles for their application in tissue engineering and 3D cell cultures.

Iwona Cicha

Iwona Cicha studied Biology at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland. After obtaining her PhD in Medical Sciences at the Ehime Medical School, Ehime University, Japan, she moved to the University of Erlangen. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nephrology in 2003, before joining the Department of Cardiology, where she obtained her Habilitation in Experimental Medicine in 2012. Currently, she is a group leader in the Laboratory of Molecular Cardiology. She has extensive research experience in the field of atherosclerosis, with focus on the role of inflammation and blood flow dynamics in plaque development and destabilization.

Stephan Dürr

Stephan Dürr earned a Medical Degree from the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg and received his MD at the Institute of Pathology at the University Hospital Erlangen. Since 2004, he has been working at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Erlangen, where he specialized as an otorhinolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon in 2009. Within the ENT Department, he joined the SEON in 2010. There he has been working as a research fellow on magnetic drug targeting.

Christoph Alexiou

Christoph Alexiou received his MD from the Technical University of Munich, Medical school in 1995. After finishing his internship at the Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital of the Technical University of Munich, he started as a physician and researcher at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and founded a research group working in the field of local chemotherapy with magnetic nanoparticles (magnetic drug targeting). In 2000, he received his degree as an ENT-Physician and in 2002, he moved to the ENT-Department in Erlangen, Germany, where he performed his postdoctoral lecture qualification (Habilitation). He worked as an assistant medical director in the clinic and lead the SEON. Since 2009 he holds the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation-Professorship for Nanomedicine at the University Hospital Erlangen. His research focuses on the translation of magnetic drug targeting and the application of magnetic nanoparticles into clinical application. He has received several national and international awards for his work.

Stefan Lyer

Stefan Lyer studied Biology at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. After finishing his PhD thesis at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)/Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg he continued as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Genome Analysis at the DKFZ. In 2008, he moved back to Erlangen starting a postdoc position at the group of Prof. Dr. Christoph Alexiou at the ENT-Department of the University Hospital Erlangen, which was renamed SEON in 2009. Here, he focussed on the application of nanoparticles in cancer therapy. Since 2011, he has been assistant group leader of SEON.

Corresponding author: Dr. rer. nat. Marc Schwarz, Department of Neuroradiology, University Hospital Erlangen, Schwabachanlage 6, 91054 Erlangen, Germany, Phone: +09131-85 44 835, Fax: +09131-85 34 828; and Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany

Received: 2013-03-12

Accepted: 2013-05-25

Published Online: 2013-07-02

Published in Print: 2013-08-01

Citation Information: Nanotechnology Reviews, ISSN (Online) 2191-9097, ISSN (Print) 2191-9089, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ntrev-2013-0010.

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