Unraveling the Mystery of Nanocarrier-Mediated Drug Delivery

My proposal is to combine metal-organic frameworks and perfluorinated compounds to develop a nanocarrier platform that can be selectively visualized by 19F magnetic resonance imaging, enabling crucial insights into the efficacy, safety and design requirements of drug nanocarriers.

Nanomedicine holds great promise for improving human health through the use of nanoparticles to deliver drugs directly to diseased cells. However, despite significant public funding, there are still many unknowns regarding drug nanocarriers, including their efficacy and persistence in the human body. For instance, we still do not know much about nanocarriers for intravenous drug delivery, including the exact information how they leave the blood stream, where they accumulate, when and how they are cleared out from the body, etc. Moreover, it is also not clear how the material design (particle size and morphology, surface coating, etc.) affects the nanocarrier performance and thus, what the optimal properties would be. To shed more light on these elementary, but extremely crucial issues, my vision is to develop a platform that combines a highly versatile material (whose properties can be easily tailored) to form the nanocarrier, with a highly sensitive and specific imaging modality for the detection. To meet the first requirement, I propose using nanoparticles based on porous crystalline polymers called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). For the second part, I suggest labeling MOF particles with fluorinated compounds, which enable the nanocarrier visualization by 19F magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 19F MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique based on the detection of 19F nuclei. Since only a trace amount of 19F is present in the body, 19F-labeled nanocarriers can be detected exclusively. To make MOF nanocarriers detectable by 19F MRI, I suggest introducing perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) (such as peflurorodecaline, i.e. a non-toxic PFC liquid which has been proposed as a blood substitute) into the nanocarrier pores. This novel platform holds the potential to shed light on crucial aspects related to nanomedicine, including the efficacy, persistence, and safety of nanocarriers within the human body, as well as the necessary specifications for their design.

Image courtesy of Hana Bunzen.


Group Leader

Hana Bunzen, Lindau Alumna 2019
University of Augsburg, Germany

Skills for Project