A program comprising several collaborative research efforts has been dedicated to advancing the art of utilization of magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical purposes. The research has been performed by three teams, each focusing on different aspects of the art:

This Transmission Electron Micrograph shows a magnetite/titanium oxide/gold nanoparticle typical of the magnetic nanocomposites investigated in this research program.

  • A team at the Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI) of the College of Sciences of the University of New Orleans has addressed the synthesis and characterization of magnetic nanoparticles and associated materials. The work of this team has been divided into several main tasks. One task is to develop methodology for the synthesis of magnetic nanocomposite particles, including magnetite/titanium oxide/gold (see figure) and magnetite/polystyrene/semiconductor nanoparticles. Another task is to provide for functionalization of magnetic nanocomposite particles to make them suitable for bioconjugation of antibodies or other active biomolecules. Still another task is to improve the utilization of magnetic nanocomposite particles as means of delivering drugs.
  • A team at the Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD) of Louisiana State University has addressed the design and fabrication of devices for handling and detecting biological samples labelled with magnetic nanoparticles. These devices include sensors that utilize giant magnetoresistance (GMR) for detection of biomolecules through detection of magnetic nanoparticles attached to those molecules. This work has been divided into several major tasks, including fabrication of silicon-based GMR sensors and integration of them into microfluidic platforms, functionalization of surfaces of GMR sensors with thin layers of biomolecules that afford selective binding of target molecules, and synthesis and characterization of biofunctionalized magnetic nanoparticles.
  • A team at the Louisiana State University Neuroscience Center of Excellence has addressed the utilization of magnetic nanoparticles in the treatment of mild brain injuries. This team has made use of the magnetic-nanoparticle technology developed by the AMRI and CAMD teams and has developed molecular recognition processes and identified bioreceptor-recognition elements needed for the further development of nanobiotechnological approaches to (a) reducing the short-term consequences of mild traumatic head injury, (b) preventing or slowing laser-induced retinal injury, and (c) alleviating pain in military personnel.

This work was done by Charles J. O'Connor of the University of New Orleans, and Josef Hormes and Nicolas Bazan of Louisiana State University for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.medicaldesignbriefs.com/briefs. DARPA-0008

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Magnetic Nanoparticles and Devices for Biomedical Uses

(reference DARPA-0008) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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