One of the tasks undertaken by the Clinical Neurosciences Research Laboratory (LINC) of the Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela (IDIS), within InveNNta, is to develop new diagnostic systems for neurological diseases, in particular for the thrombolytic treatment of ischemic stroke. One of this task’s goals is to reduce the costs associated with this disease, which is the main cause of morbi-mortality in Spain and Portugal. LINC is also developing systems for in vivo tracking of key cells in diagnosing and treating complex illnesses, such as stroke, in order to obtain new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) contrast agents both for internal use and third party licensing. More specifically, LINC is testing INL developed nanoparticles in vitro using neural and mesenchymal stem cell cultures. Afterwards, in vivo testing is also carried out, studying MRI detection of administered cells that were previously labeled with nanoparticles.
Doctor Bárbara Argibay, from the Clinical Neurosciences Research Laboratory, signals that stem cells surfaced as a therapeutic option in a number of pathologies, but the mechanisms underlying their therapeutic action are still not clear. One of the most important parameters in applying this cell therapy is the route of administration and biodistribution of the cells once injected. These extremely small cells do not offer a contrast that can be detected by existing imaging techniques. Superparamagnetic nanoparticles allow for the innocuous labeling of these cells, as well as their detection and tracking over time through MRI, without losing anatomical and structural information and allowing for the study of the pathology’s evolution.
The main application for this technology is the development of a non-invasive cell detection system for stem cell therapy in neurological diseases in general and stroke in particular.
INVENNTA advances the development of nanoparticles for cell therapy
Presently, no cell tracking method is approved for human clinical use. For this reason, InveNNta will be a significant step forward in the development of nanoparticles for use in cell therapy.
So far, according to doctor Argibay, the research LINC is carrying out has experimented with labeling different cell lines. Neural and mesenchymal cell lines are those in which best results were obtained. This is important, as these cells are therapeutic targets for neurological diseases. Furthermore, no labeling or toxicity differences were observed between these two cell lines which is very interesting because the nanoparticles wouldn’t be specific to one cell line.
These studies have already started to bear fruit. InveNNta’s research has enabled the development of stable nanoparticles, with a biocompatible coating, which incorporate the cell without the need for transfection agents and allow in vivo cell tracking through MRI. Presently, LINC researchers are committed to concluding pre-clinical development in order to begin testing. They expect to conclude this task in May with all the results that would enable the development of a Phase I clinical trial.
InveNNta will be a big step forward in developing nanoparticles for use in cell therapy. According to Doctor Bárbara Argibay this study is very enriching due to its multidisciplinary approach. In her opinion, collaborative projects are very interesting not only due to the professional relationships that are established, but also due to the different viewpoints involved. This improves its conception and execution as well as perspectives for future research.