We know a great deal about the biochemistry of cells because they can be isolated and studied. The biochemistry of the much more complex in vivo environment is more difficult to study because the only ways to quantitate concentrations is to sacrifice the animal or biopsy the tissue. Either method disrupts the environment profoundly and neither method allows longitudinal studies on the same individual. Methods of measuring chemical concentrations in vivo are very valuable alternatives to sacrificing groups of animals. We are developing microscopic magnetic nanoparticle (mNP) probes to measure the concentration of a selected molecule in vivo. The mNPs are targeted to bind the selected molecule and the resulting reduction in rotational freedom can be quantified remotely using magnetic spectroscopy. The mNPs must be contained in micrometer sized porous shells to keep them from migrating and to protect them from clearance by the immune system. There are two key issues in the development of the probes. First, we demonstrate the ability to measure concentrations in the porous walled alginate probes both in phosphate buffered saline and in blood, which is an excellent surrogate for the complex and challenging in vivo environment. Second, sensitivity is critical because it allows microscopic probes to measure very small concentrations very far away. We report sensitivity measurements on recently introduced technology that has allowed us to improve the sensitivity by two orders of magnitude, a factor of 200 so far.
Keywords: Magnetic particle imaging; perpendicular magnetic particle imaging; sMSB.