Biomedical Computer Science and Mechatronics

DFG project: quantMRX - Quantitative magnetorelaxometry for magnetic nanoparticle monitoring for assisting human cancer therapies

Duration: 2020 - 2023
Principal Investigator (UMIT): Univ.-Prof. Dr. Daniel Baumgarten
Cooperation Partner: PTB (Germany)
Funding: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF) -
grant I 4357-B
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - project number 428329263
The goal of this project is to develop and provide an imaging modality for the quantitative detection of magnetic nanoparticles (MNP) for the diagnostic support of MNP-based cancer therapies. In these novel treatment approaches, MNP is used to transport medically active substances to the tumor in a targeted way (Magnetic Drug Targeting) or to generate heat for fighting cancer cells in a locally restricted way by means of MNP (magnetic hyperthermia). Thereby, the quantitative imaging detection of the MNP distribution in the human body is essential for the assessment and the individual control of the therapy progress.

The method of magnetic relaxometry (MRX) provides a mature measurement technology which has already demonstrated its fundamental suitability for the sensitive and specific detection of MNP in tissue in pre-clinical applications. In this project, the required technology is to be further developed on this basis so that MNP distributions in specific human body regions such as the brain, the prostate, the lymphatic nodes, the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs or the extremities can be quantitatively imaged.

Particular attention is given thereby to the establishment of procedures for the prompt demonstration of MNP distributions immediately during, or after the MRX measurements (online monitoring). For this purpose, novel approaches for data processing and for the reconstruction of the distributions with high spatial resolution and, at the same time, with a substantial reduction of the computing time, are to be realized. In addition, approaches for the multi-modal integration of the quantitative MNP distribution and the associated anatomic structure of the body region are to be developed, with the anatomic data being obtained by established procedures such as CT, MRT or laser scanning of the body surface.

Another field of activity in this project consists in the investigation of the possibilities of MRX imaging for the demonstration of molecular changes in the body. The MRX signals contain information on the local viscosity in the immediate vicinity of the MNPs. This information can also be imaged and used for the investigation of physiological processes in the body.

In the present project, special body-part phantoms, which image the physiological and physical parameters in selected therapy scenarios and which can be loaded in a defined way with MNPs, are to be developed for the evaluation of MRX imaging. These investigations are carried out in close cooperation with our clinical partners to ensure the medical relevance and to take the clinical requirements and the demands on the imaging modality into account from a medical point of view.

When the project objectives are achieved, all technical requirements shall be complied with in order to apply MRX imaging of MNPs to new MNP-based cancer therapies in humans.