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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Professor Karlheinz Peter and Professor Geoff Pietersz

Project summary

Our laboratory is developing activated platelet-targeted gold nanoparticles as a CT contrast agent for molecular imaging of cardiovascular disease, such as atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction.

Computed Tomography (CT) allows for the cutting edge use of non-invasive anatomical imaging of the human body and is commonly used to diagnose cardiovascular disease. However, there are two main limitations of CT: limited soft tissue contrast and the lack of molecular readout. In recent years, the development of gold nanoparticles (GNRs) as CT contrast agents have gained major attention, with a specific focus on overcoming these CT limitations. The unique properties of GNRs, such as high X-ray attenuation, easy synthesis, and most importantly the ability to incorporate targeted photothermal therapy to imaging, make it an attractive agent for molecular imaging.

Activated platelets are known to play a major role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and ischaemia/ reperfusion injury post myocardial infarction. In the Atherothrombosis and Vascular Biology laboratory, we have developed a single-chain antibody which only targets and binds to activated platelets present in areas of disease, but does not bind to  resting circulating platelets. We aim to design activated platelet-targeted GNRs for molecular imaging of atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction. Further on, we aim to develop a theranostic agent, by incorporating photothermal therapy or a therapeutic drug to the activated platelet-targeted GNRs for localised therapy, whilst ensuring limited systemic side effects.

Related methods, skills or technologies

This project is suitable for a MastersHonours or PhD student and would involve the use of nanotechnology, molecular imaging, preclinical imaging, CT, MR, biotechnology, and recombinant protein design and production.

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