Improving Microparticle Detection at University of Amsterdam

Microparticles and exosomes are microvesicles present in body fluids, derived from the plasma membrane of cells and platelets. They play important roles in normal processes (coagulation, inflammation, cellular homeostasis and survival, intercellular signaling, and transport of waste materials) as well as a number of disease states.

The size, concentration, and biochemical composition of these vesicles contain clinically relevant information – that is expected to lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of disease. However, because of the small size of most vesicles (30 nm – 1 µm), they are below the detection range of many currently used techniques.

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Edwin van der Pol works with a team of researchers headed by Prof. Ton van Leeuwen and Dr. Rienk Nieuwland, at the Departments of Biomedical Engineering & Physics and the Laboratory for Experimental Clinical Chemistry, Academic Medical Center (AMC), University of Amsterdam.

The center is unique in that it evolved from a fusion of the Departments of Medical Physics and the Laser Center in 2008. With its expertise in haemodynamics, cardiovascular biophysics, and applications of biomedical photonics and quantitative medical imaging, the center regularly provides support for physicians and clinical researchers.

In preliminary experiments AMC researchers have shown that the qNano is capable of measuring the size and concentration of individual vesicles directly in suspension.

The group intend to combine the qNano with complimentary detection methods, so that parallel information on the biochemical composition of macromolecules inside living cells can be determined on a vesicle-by-vesicle basis.

“The simultaneous detection of the size, concentration, and biochemical composition from single vesicles would be a major step forward”, says van der Pol.

“We expect that the improved detection of vesicles will provide an entirely new level of clinical information, which is likely to become an integral part of routine health care.”