Imaging enables personalised treatment for cancer patients

Chemist Anu Airaksinen is one of the researchers who received four-year funding from the Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering.

Research is underway at the University of Helsinki’s Laboratory of Radiochemistry to develop radioactive markers which would enable the imaging of nanopharmaceuticals targeting cancer.

“The new radiopharmaceuticals used in imaging can seek out and attach to the surface of the nanomaterial, in this case, the nanopharmaceutical. We can then use imaging to trace where the nanopharmaceutical has accumulated in the patient’s system,” Anu Airaksinen explains.

The identification and tracing of the nanopharmaceutical are based on a rapid organic reaction between the marker and the nanomaterial. This reaction can be imaged through positron emission tomography (PET) or single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), both of which are sensitive diagnostic imaging methods which are already in clinical use.

Nanopharmaceuticals would be both diagnostic and therapeutic

The benefit of developing the radiopharmaceuticals would be in the development of new, efficient nanopharmaceuticals, since the methods being developed in Airaksinen’s project enable the combination of therapeutic and diagnostic functions in a single nanomaterial.

“For example, in the future, a cancer patient could benefit from the development of these radiopharmaceuticals in that his or her particular illness could be meticulously evaluated and treated through personalised medicine and under strict supervision.”

The ultimate goal is that a single nanopharmaceutical could be used as both a diagnostic tool and treatment.

Academy of Finland granted €38 million to natural sciences

In total, the Academy of Finland granted approximately €38 million to research projects in the natural sciences and engineering this June. This funding is allocated to 91 research projects, most of them four years in duration, after receiving a total of 541 applications.

The Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering based its decisions on the scientific quality of the research. The Council also considered whether the research would enable innovation in science and boost research impact.

Other University of Helsinki research in the natural sciences successful in this funding round include projects studying the synthesis of graphene-type fragments, the probing of dark energy as part of the Euclid cosmology mission as well as assessment of black carbon in the Eurasian arctic.

List of all projects receiving funding from the Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering.

Translation: University of Helsinki Language Services