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Home > Radiologie > Forschung - Wissenschaft > Molecular Imaging

Developing nanoparticle- based Magnetic Resonance Molecular Imaging

in collaboration with Ao. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Paul Debbage

Histological and histochemical studies of endothelial cells have led us to develop Molecular Imaging of blood vessels by microscopy and by Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Exact knowledge of tissue structures also forms the conceptual basis for our further work, essential in overcoming the challenges posed by the numerous blood-tissue barriers in the body- which have overwhelming consequences for Nanomedicine. Our project is a close collaboration with the Department of Radiology of the Medical University Innsbruck

Research interests

We design and create nanoparticles as vehicles to cross tissue barriers which in vivo hinder access between the blood and the disease target. We aim to drastically increase drug and diagnostic access to clinically relevant targets. We seek to understand the cellular and physiological barriers in biological tissues, and to use this knowledge to steer particles with high specificity through these barriers towards their target. We believe that this is today's biggest opportunity to improve both diagnostics and therapy in medicine.

Research aims 

  • raising the targeting efficiency of drugs well beyond the present maximum of 2% for a conventional drug
  • creating nanoparticle vehicles from materials that exert no severe side-effects (non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-immunogenic)
  • tracking nanoparticle vehicles and their drug loads through the body by non-invasive imaging

A: State of the Art: Nanoparticles (dark green dots) in the blood do not pass intact endothelial cells (yellow) with intact tight junctions (TJ1): they only enter the perivascular space (PVS) via "enhanced permeability and retention" (EPR) at permeable sites where tumour-secreted factors (red arrows) induce numerous caveolae (cv) in endothelial cells, and tight junctions are open (TJ2).

B: Transbarrier targeting: We need to design nanoparticles (light green stars) which can pass intact barriers (yellow) by specific vesicular transport to access PVS where tumour cells otherwise remain inaccessible.


Universitätsklinik für Radiologie, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck