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Posted: April 3, 2009

IMEC launches start-up to commercialize nanoparticle-based imaging technology

(Nanowerk News) IMEC, the Belgian nanotechnology and nanoelectronics research center, has announced the start of PEPRIC NV, a new company that will develop and commercialize molecular and functional imaging technology based on magnetic nanoparticles. Pepric's technology addresses pharmaceutical applications for drug development and pre-clinical studies.
The demand for targeted healthcare, specifically targeted to the problem zone in the body, increases as this can reduce the side effects to a minimum. With its Human++ program, IMEC aims to find solutions for these growing healthcare needs by combining nanoelectronics and biotechnology. One of the R&D activities of the Human++ program focuses on technologies for molecular and functional imaging, a young and dynamic market which is in full expansion. IMEC studies the functionalization and in-vivo detection of nano-particles targeted to selective zones in the body where they specifically attach to well-determined cells or molecules.
The new start-up Pepric aims at developing a technology for in-vivo visualization of magnetic nanoparticles based on magnetic resonance. Visualized nanoparticles that are selectively attached to a certain target molecule enable the direct follow-up of biological processes in which the target molecule is involved, allowing real-time study of the effect of medicines on body parameters.
The unique advantages of direct imaging of magnetic nanoparticles are the high sensitivity and the sharp time resolution enabling real-time visualization. Moreover, magnetic labels are stable, in contrast to radioisotopes used in PET en SPECT scanning. Therefore, specialized facilities for production and manipulation of magnetic nanoparticles are not required. Another advantage of magnetic nanoparticles is the stability of the magnetic labels allowing long-term in-vivo observation of biological processes, essential for a thorough understanding of slow biochemical processes.
Stephanie Teughels, CEO of Pepric NV: "In this initial phase of Pepric, we will concentrate on the development of the technology to demonstrate its market potential. That is essential to attract venture capital which is needed to further develop Pepric. The launch of a first commercial application is expected within 3 to 5 years."
Ludo Deferm, Executive Vice President Business Development at IMEC: "Nanotechnology and nanoelectronics may prove useful in the development of more accurate and targeted tools for health diagnosis and therapy and a more efficient and cheaper healthcare. We are therefore proud to launch a new start-up that will convert our generic nanoelectronics research into a concrete product that may contribute to the development of targeted drugs."
Source: IMEC
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