Research by the University of Sydney has demonstrated that iron oxide nanoparticles developed by Imagion Biosystems (ASX: IBX) can enable low-field magnetic resonance imaging and could potentially reduce the costs and accessibility of MRI procedures.
The report shows how a fundamental challenge which has hampered the development of ultra-low field MRI could be overcome through the use of Imagion’s iron oxide nanoparticles, yielding high-contrast images without compromising acquisition sensitivity even when using ultra-low magnetic fields.
To date, the MRI contrast media field has been dominated by chelated agents such as gadolinium, however that agent has come under scrutiny recently due to its toxic effect on the nervous and renal systems.
University of Sydney researchers received an industry collaboration grant to investigate the utility of nanoparticles as a contrast agent for MRI, with Imagion providing in-kind support including the use of its PrecisionMRX nanoparticles which are routinely sold for research purposes.
Imagion chairman Bob Proulx said the university’s research reinforces the clinical and commercial opportunities for nanoparticle technology.
“This is very exciting science,” he said.
“It has long been known that iron oxide nanoparticles create contrast with MRI machines [and] we believe this sort of research – along with an upcoming study on our MagSense nanoparticles for clinical detection of HER2 metastatic breast cancer – will pave the way to multiple commercial opportunities for Imagion and our nanoparticle technology.”
Breast cancer study
The MagSense study will incorporate five clinical sites in Victoria and New South Wales and aims to use nanoparticles in the detection of tumour cells associated with HER2 breast cancer in the lymph nodes of up to 40 patients.
The study is expected to commence later this year and continue for nine months.
Mr Proulx told shareholders at today’s annual general meeting that it has been designed to provide initial insights regarding the effectiveness our HER2-targeting nanoparticles for determining the presence and spread of breast cancer.
“Being able to non-invasively identify which patients have metastatic disease will significantly improve care since as many as 70% of patients are negative but are still required to have surgical or biopsy procedures to find that out,” he said.
“The initial part of the study will test 15 or 20 patients, which is enough to assess safety and get an initial view of their bio-functionality for detecting metastatic disease.”
Based on initial outcomes, Imagion may then proceed with larger studies for regulatory clearance.
Mr Proulx said Imagion’s vision remains expansive as nanoparticle technology has significant potential in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases.
“We still lose too many lives to cancer, so at Imagion we have a clear purpose – to provide a better, safer way to detect and ultimately treat cancer,” he said.
“Every step we take towards achieving that goal is an opportunity to create value for [our] shareholders.”