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Designing Nanoparticles as Medical Tools

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Nanosized materials have the potential to revolutionise a variety of different fields, due to unique properties associated with their small sizes. In this talk, I will describe efforts to design nanomaterials as medical imaging tools as well as for high efficacy therapeutics. Nanoparticle-based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) agents provide superior contrast enhancements compared to their molecular (clinically used) Gd(III) analogues; tuning the sub-particle localisation of Gd(III) macrocycles within a mesoporous scaffold has a dramatic effect on their contrast capability – providing contrast agents with unprecedented relaxivity. Iron oxide based nanocomposites can be carefully engineered to provide strong contrast signal, significantly better than current commercial species, at low and clinically-relevant fields. Finally, engineering the surface chemistry of mesoporous silica nanoparticles allows control over their subcellular distribution. Conjugation of a specific cytochrome to such cytosol-accessing particles can induce programmed cell death across a population of cancer cells with remarkable efficiency.

Dr. Davies is a senior research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, where she specialises in nanomaterial research. This highly interdisciplinary field involves inorganic particle preparation and organic synthesis overlapping with the life sciences.

This talk is part of the Stokes Society, Pembroke College series.

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