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Cell-Based 'Tracking Devices' Might Help Monitor Treatments
Date:7/10/2012

ubject patients to radiation exposure, Newby noted.

The study involved two phases. First, the researchers determined that blood cells with attached iron filings moved normally, and were indeed able to survive. Twenty study volunteers participated. Some people were given injections into their thigh muscles of either unlabeled cells, iron-filing labeled cells or just the filings. Others received intravenous injections of the labeled blood cells.

To show that the tracking method could be used to facilitate the development of cell-based therapies in the future, the researchers injected one person with labeled immune blood cells, and they tracked the cells as they migrated to an inflamed area of skin on the thigh. The inflammation was caused by a Mantoux tuberculosis test, an injection just under the skin that typically becomes slightly inflamed.

"This is a pretty convincing demonstration that there's real merit to this idea of using cells as carriers," said Matthew Tirrell, a professor and Pritzker director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering, at the University of Chicago.

Tirrell said the research opens up new territory for other kinds of visualization experiments. "There are few examples of any kind of targeting particles in humans," he said. "To have the confidence and guts to do it is impressive, and I think other people will be building on this work," he said.

Newby said that the research team hopes to investigate the use of these techniques to diagnose inflammatory conditions of the heart, such as transplant rejection, myocarditis or inflammation of the heart, and sarcoidosis, where there is inflammation in multiple organs. The work may also be useful in five to 10 years in stem-cell research, he added.

More information

Visit PEW's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies to learn more about nanotechnolgy.

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