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Sleeping Trojan Horse, a New Technique for Better Medical Imaging

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Digital radiography newsThe researching team at Cardiff University has developed a unique strategy that opens up new possibilities for developing diagnostic imaging screening. Medical imaging often needs to insert un-natural materials, for instance metal ions, into cells, an operation which is considered a major challenge across a range of biomedical disciplines. Currently, one technique is used named the 'Trojan Horse' in which the drug or screening agent is attached to something naturally taken up by cells.

The Cardiff team is composed of researchers from the Schools of Chemistry and Biosciences; this team has taken the technique one step further with the improvement of a 'sleeping Trojan horse'.  This is the delivery system that solves some of the recent difficulties included in transporting metal ions into cells; it is the first example of its type.

It is not itself taken up by cells so it does not interfere with natural functions till it is 'woken' by the addition of the metal ions. This decreases the unwanted uptake and the need for time-consuming purification associated with the common 'Trojan Horse' technique.

Dr Mike Coogan, Senior Lecturer in Synthetic Chemistry led the research, along with the study's first author, Flora Thorp-Greenwood. He mentioned that "The sleeping Trojan horse process happens rapidly, and the vessel is capable of carrying metals which have positron-emitting isotopes, so it has potential for use in bimodal fluorescence and PET imaging. Combined agents for these types of imaging are known but rare, so this is a significant development in the field. There is also additional potential for use in radiotherapy as the metal-bearing form not only enters cells but also localizes in the nucleolus. In principle, the concept could also be used to improve delivery of a huge range of drugs and imaging agents into cells or the body."

The study titled  'Sleeping Trojan Horse' was published in the advanced article section of Chemical Communications by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the leading weekly journal for the publication of the fundamental developments in the chemical sciences, which transports metal ions into cells, localizes in nucleoli, and has potential for bimodal fluorescence/PET imaging.

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