R&DPublished on 11.01.2017

NanoLockin innovation recognized

The Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI) is once again among the winners of the Ypsomed Innovation Fund’s Innovation Award for research, development and technology transfer. AMI BioNanomaterials co-chair Professor Alke Fink has received the third prize of CHF 10'000 for the NanoLockin project.

NanoLockin is a novel method that allows for fast and efficient thermal screening of medical nanoparticles, which have recently been applied in so-called magnetic hyperthermia. Magnetic hyperthermia, which clinical specialists say could be the fourth pillar of cancer treatment, along with surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, relies on iron oxide nanoparticles injected near a tumor that are then heated by an magnetic field to kill off the tumor cells. The success of the treatment depends both on the properties of the nanoparticles and those of the magnetic field.

To improve the likelihood of a positive outcome, the AMI researchers led by Fink, developed a method to visualize the behavior of iron oxide particles when heated by a magnetic coil. Current systems rely on fiber optics plunged into a nanoparticle suspension, but this method is less than reliable. In collaboration with researchers from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, they adapted lock-in thermography imaging technology, originally developed for the quality control of aircraft parts, for their system, thus optimizing production and dosing of the nanoparticles.

When nanoparticles are used for cancer therapy for example, this would mean that the particle concentration is the best possible for its target. This also means the treatment would work faster, more successfully and at lower cost.   

The Ypsomed Innovation Fund aims to promote innovative activities in the central part of Switzerland and supports projects for independent funding of young startups and existing businesses. The Innovation Award is worth a total of CHF 60,000. Previous winners includes Fink’s BioNanomaterials co-chair, Professor Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser, who took the second prize in 2013 for her project to develop a bio-printing platform to engineer lung tissue similar to that found at the air-blood barrier.

Read the NanoLockin story here.

Ypsomed press release (German) here.