NIH provides funding to develop nanoparticle-based imaging technology for early cancer detection

in Faculty, Grants & Funding, Reinhard, Björn
October 30th, 2008

Professor Bjoern Reinhard

Professor Bjoern Reinhard

Mounting evidence indicates that some RNAs (so called micro RNAs [miRNAs]) play a significant role as oncogenes or tumor suppressors. The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has funded Professor Björn Reinhard and his group to develop a nanoparticle-based imaging technology for early cancer diagnosis through detection of characteristic miRNAs.

The new imaging technology will detect and track single RNA molecules in living cells in real time without limitation in observation time. It is based on the distance-dependent plasmon coupling between individual noble metal nanoparticles that are tethered by a RNA probe strand. Hybridization of a complementary RNA target strand induces an interparticle distance change that leads to a shift in the plasmon resonance wavelength. This spectral shift indicates target RNA binding. The special novelty of the Group’s plasmon coupling approach is the active nature of the proposed nanoparticle sensors. Due to their inherent ability to couple with each other, the proposed sensors enable a continuous monitoring of the end-to-end distance of the RNA tether. They will both detect and track individual RNA molecules, as well as provide information about structural changes of the labeled RNA tether in real-time.

Entitled, “Plasmon Coupling Microscopy for the in vivo Detection and Tracking of Cytoplasmic RNA,” the two-year NIH award runs through June 2010. To learn more about the research being done in the Reinhard Group, please click here.