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Advances and Challenges in Nanomedicine

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Front. Pharmacol. | doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00802

Advantages and Limitations of Current Techniques for Analyzing the Biodistribution of Nanoparticles

Lauren Arms1, Doug Smith1, Jamie Flynn1, 2, William Palmer1, 2, Antony Martin1, 2,  Ameha Woldu1, 2 and  Susan Hua1, 2*
  • 1University of Newcastle, Australia
  • 2Hunter Medical Research Institute, Australia

Nanomedicines are typically submicrometer-sized carrier materials (nanoparticles) encapsulating therapeutic and/or imaging compounds that are used for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. They are increasingly being used to overcome biological barriers in the body to improve the way we deliver compounds to specific tissues and organs. Nanomedicine technology aims to improve the balance between the efficacy and the toxicity of therapeutic compounds. Nanoparticles, one of the key technologies of nanomedicine, can exhibit a combination of physical, chemical and biological characteristics that determine their in vivo behavior. A key component in the translational assessment of nanomedicines is determining the biodistribution of the nanoparticles following in vivo administration in animals and humans. There are a range of techniques available for evaluating nanoparticle biodistribution, including histology, liquid scintillation counting (LSC), indirectly measuring drug concentrations, in vivo optical imaging, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear medicine imaging. Each technique has its own advantages and limitations, as well as capabilities for assessing real-time, whole-organ and cellular accumulation. This review will address the principles and methodology of each technique and their advantages and limitations for evaluating in vivo biodistribution of nanoparticles.

Keywords: Nanoparticles, imaging, biodistribution, Histology, Radiolabeling, fluorescence, computed tomography, Nuclear medicine imaging, Nanomedicine, Liquid Scintillation Counting, in vivo optical imaging, positron emission tomography (PET), Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Drug concentration

Received: 18 May 2018; Accepted: 03 Jul 2018.

Edited by:

Xinhua Qu, Renji Hospital, Shanghai JiaoTong University School of Medicine, China

Reviewed by:

Christoph E. Hagemeyer, Monash University, Australia
Bianca C. Bernardo, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Australia  

Copyright: © 2018 Arms, Smith, Flynn, Palmer, Martin, Woldu and Hua. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Susan Hua, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia,