Biomedical instrument development may have animal, human health benefits

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Major strides are being made in a K-State team’s efforts to develop a biomedical device, which they believe will benefit both animal and human healthcare. Earlier this semester, the team received a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Institute to continue to develop their instrument and research how it can be used to aid in health treatments.


The instrument, a modified, wide-bore 600 megahertz magnetic resonance imaging spectrometer, is a small MRI-like device that will use heat in a process called “thermal cell therapy” to mimic how the body uses fever to fight infections.


“These approaches have been around, but the previous instruments were slow and not capable of observing the
effects of hyperthermia while it actually happens,” Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry, said. “For the first time we can apply the treatment and instantly see the effects from it.”


Bossmann, as well as his colleague Deryl Troyer, professor of anatomy and physiology, are focusing their research on the cells that will act as a vehicle that travels to tumors carrying very small particles called nanoparticles. The device will use these magnetic nanoparticles to take real-time, high-resolution images of where the injected cells went. The instrument will then be used to deliver hyperthermia, or drastic heat, to attack the tumor cells. High-resolution images can also be taken by the device of the effects of the process which is also known as thermal cell therapy.


Their lab will also research to see if the nanoparticles injected by the device will cause any kind of concerning levels of toxicity to the body. The Bossmann and Troyer labs have gathered data
showing that patients won’t be harmed.


Leila Maurmann, nuclear magnetic resonance and instrumentation manager of the chemistry department, and Punit Prakash, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will be working on the development of specific aspects of the device itself as well as the device’s software when it arrives on campus next semester.


“The challenge will be to get the heat precisely where we want it to do precisely what we want it to do,” Prakash said.


Prakash said the project will present a lot of opportunities for K-State students to get involved with several aspects of the research and development for the device.


According to Prakash, cell therapy techniques like this are already being used in addition to chemotherapy treatments to treat cancers. It is anticipated that this device will make these existing techniques more effective in treatment. The radiofrequency field that heats the nanoparticles will overheat tumor cells, killing them. The heat may also lead to breakthroughs in preventing bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics. Another member of the team, Sanjeev Narayanan, associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathology, said he hopes to use the instrument to treat several infections in cattle.


The team has hopes of starting initial testing on rodent models as soon as next fall, but don’t expect the device to be popping up in hospitals any time soon.


“It will take time to fine tune it,” Troyer said. “These types of things take time.”


The team has two years to make a working device before they can apply for more grants to continue testing. A conservative estimate of five to 10 years was given before we will see this device in hospitals.


“It’s going to be a state of the art piece of equipment,” Troyer said. “It’s something we needed here at K-State. It will really enhance our reputation.”


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