To improve the effective targeting of the heart, CUPIDO is exploring the possibility to employ an electromagnetic-mediated guidance. This promising technique employs magnetically responsive objects that can travel in the blood circulation and that are retained in the target organ by an external magnetic field. In CUPIDO, nanoparticles loaded with a drug become magnetically responsive thanks to the inclusion of iron. The targeted guidance will result into an increase of the drug concentration in the target area, thus minimizing its concentrations in other areas of the body and the related side effects.
CUPIDO partners at CNR-ISTEC in collaboration with the company BIOEMTECH have successfully synthetized the magnetic nanoparticles following a new protocol [Adamiano et al. Acta Biomaterialia, 2018]. The studies to assess their behavior with cardiac cells are currently ongoing in vitro. In the meantime, to ensure that the magnetic nanoparticles can travel against the blood flow, the CNR-IEIIT and Simula team have worked together to find the most suitable Electromagnetic systems able to generate the right forces. They first compared several systems by means of computational simulations and later validated their results with lab experiments.
Currently, the CNR-IEIIT team is working to ensure that the nanoparticles can efficiently release their cargo when they reach the heart. To study the process, they have developed a custom device that mimics the cardiovascular fluidic environment [Marrella et al., J R Soc Interface. 2018]. With this bioreactor, they have shown that a low pulse electromagnetic field successfully triggers the drug release, according to the applied frequency. More experiments will be realized in the near future with a 3D printed micro-fluidic device that mimics the blood velocities in different vessels (from aorta to capillaries). This system will be useful to assess the stability of nanoparticles when subjected to physiological velocities, bringing CUPIDO another step closer to the heart.