Partnering opportunity

Nanoparticles doped with copper for magnetic resonance imaging


A Spanish research institution has developed a new family of nanoparticles with interesting properties for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). These non-toxic nanoparticles can be used as positive contrast agents and are obtained in a simple, fast and reproducible manufacturing procedure. They are looking for partners, with no preferred location, to establish a license or research cooperation agreement.

Partner sought

The Research center is seeking for companies working as agents for medical imaging for out-licensing the patent. The partner would further develop the technology (either on its own or with the help of the center through an R&D collaboration agreement) and/or commercialize it, in case that the collaboration is vehiculated through a license agreement.


In magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the majority of nanoparticles (NP) based on iron oxide provide a negative (T2) signal which results in the area where these NPs accumulate to appear in black color. For several reasons, such color complicates the diagnosis and thus limits its clinical use. Therefore, research is searching for NPs generating contrast based in the longitudinal relaxation time (T1), which renders a brightening of the image upon the accumulation of the probe. The search for new iron oxide nanoparticle-based probes for MRI has moved to the development of iron oxide nanoparticles (IONP) as ‘positive’ contrast agents, showing large values of their longitudinal relaxivity (r1), a value that measures the capacity of a contrast agent to provide a bright signal. A Spanish research institution has developed copper-doped iron oxide nanoparticles (CuIONP) capable of providing good contrast in T1. When iron oxide nanoparticles are doped with Cu (copper), a significant increase in the value of r1 is achieved. ‘Normal’ values of contrast agents for clinical use have values in the 4-6 range. In contrast, Cu-doped iron oxide nanoparticles, provide values of 16 mM-1s-1. In addition, the synthesis of these nanoparticles can be achieved in a simple, reproducible and controlled manner, which facilitates Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), required for clinical use. The new nanomaterial has been fully characterized and demonstrated its in vivo use for the enhanced diagnosis of tumors in animal models. The research center is looking to establish a research cooperation agreement and/or license with companies working in medical imaging for further development (in case of research cooperation) and exploitation of their technology (in case of licensing).

Advantages and innovations

• A small amount of Cu has a significant increase in r1, achieving values of 16 mM-1s-1. • The final particles are obtained using microwave-driven synthesis (MWS) in a 10 minutes one-pot synthesis. This methodology can produce, in extremely short times, homogeneous nanoparticles with excellent properties for molecular imaging. • Nanometric size iron oxides have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies. • The nanoparticle components, both iron oxide, and copper are non-toxic. • The new nanomaterial has been fully characterized and demonstrated its in vivo use for the enhanced diagnosis of tumors in animal models.

Development stage

Field tested/evaluated

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted

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