NIH award targets nanotechnology for atherosclerosis imaging

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded SignaBlok a grant to develop multifunctional nanoformulations for diagnostic imaging of atherosclerosis.

The grant will explore the use of SignaBlok’s targeted nanoparticles as a safe and efficient delivery platform for imaging of vulnerable plaques in early diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis. Research will be conducted in conjunction with the Advanced MRI Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.

Shrewsbury, Mass.-based SignaBlok’s nanosystem for delivery of drugs and imaging agents targets macrophages, inflammatory cells critically involved in plaque formation. The goal of the grant is to validate a novel approach to macrophage-targeted delivery of MRI contrast agents in a clinically relevant animal model of atherosclerosis.

“The proposed research will result in the development of novel imaging techniques that would fill an important unmet medical need in the diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis. This would offer a better way to identify high-risk individuals, provide earlier diagnosis before symptoms occur and monitor treatment effects,” Alexander Sigalov, PhD, president of SignaBlok, said in a release.

“Macrophages are important imaging targets for diagnosis and image-guided therapy of not only atherosclerosis but also cancer. Thus, this grant gives us an opportunity to develop a targeted nanosystem for in vivo macrophage imaging with a wide range of clinical applications,” Sigalov added.