Polymer-coated nanoparticles are developed for a multitude of biomedical and biotechnological applications (Figure 1), such as imaging contrast agents, hyperthermia treatment, drug delivery, separation, and purification. Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles are a prominent example. They combine very low toxicity with high saturation magnetization that enables their use as magnetic resonance contrast agents as well as localized hyperthermia induced by alternating magnetic fields.
In recent years, the synthesis of iron oxide nanoparticles for biomedical applications was greatly improved, with the focus on creating single-core iron oxide nanoparticles of controlled protected by a stable uniform polymer shell. The shell is the key to avoiding protein aggregation and clearance by the liver as well as providing control over the display of targeting ligands. We will present our work on elucidating the design criteria for such core-shell nanoparticles and on tailoring them for applications in magnetic resonance imaging and biotechnological targeting and separation using functional polymer shells. Finally, we will describe how polymer and membrane-embedded size-tailored superparamagnetic nanoparticles can be used to combine matrix responsiveness and nanoparticle interactions for the next generation of theranostic materials.
Bio-Sketch of Univ. Prof. Dr. Erik Reimhult
Erik Reimhult was born in 1974 in Sweden, where he studied Engineering Physics and got his PhD in 2004 from Chalmers University of Technology with Bengt Kasemo. After stints as a postdoc in Singapore with Wolfgang Knoll (A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering) and in Switzerland with Marcus Textor (ETH Zürich) he moved to Austria in 2010 to assume a full professorship in Nanobiotechnology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna. In 2011, he became the Head of the Institute for Biologically Inspired Materials. In 2013, Reimhult was awarded a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant for research on nanoparticle-membrane interactions. He is elected member of the Young Academy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and has assumed numerous university functions such as Head of department and Vice-chairman of the Senate. Prof. Reimhult currently focuses his research on novel biomimetic nanomaterials with application in medicine and biotechnology, and on improving our understanding of how bacteria form biofilms and interact with cells to cause infections.