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Philips strikes healthcare research alliance with Italian University of Urbino for development of long retention-time contrast agents


Eindhoven, the Netherlands - Philips Research and the University of Urbino (Urbino, Italy) have signed a research agreement to study the encapsulation of magnetic nanoparticle contrast agents inside living blood cells to prolong the retention time of these agents in the blood. Injected as free particles, magnetic nanoparticle contrast agents are quickly excreted from the blood via the patient’s liver, which limits their application. During the collaboration, the University of Urbino will investigate the integration of magnetic nanoparticles into red blood cells and their biological interactions in the human body, while Philips Research will evaluate the properties of these contrast agents in its medical scanners.

The collaboration between Philips Research and the University of Urbino will last for approximately two and a half years, with expected initial applications in the treatment of cardiovascular disease – one of the biggest killers in the western world.

“Nanoparticle blood pool contrast agents have already shown considerable promise in diagnostic imaging, but the short retention time of these particles in the body has always been a real challenge,” says Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the Healthcare Research program. “Together with the unique expertise of the researchers at the University of Urbino we hope to increase the retention time of these particles from minutes to hours or even days, as this would open up applications such as the image-based monitoring of complex cardiovascular interventions that can take several hours to complete.”

This healthcare research alliance follows the recently announced partnerships with West China Hospital in China, the University Medical Centers of Maastricht (the Netherlands) and Aachen (Germany), and the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and is part of Philips’ increased commitment to developing solutions for improved patient care. A key success factor for this ambition is the effective translation from new concepts into clinical practice, which requires partnerships with leading academic and medical institutions. Bringing together such partnerships is one of the underlying principles behind Philips’ policy of open innovation.

“Our close collaboration with Philips should speed the translation of our invention into clinical practice,” comments Professor Mauro Magnani, Vice-Rector of the University of Urbino and a project leader of the EU FP6 funded NACBO (Novel and Improved Nanomaterials, Chemistries and Apparatus for Nano-Biotechnology) project. “With our technology, the use of new biomimetic constructs that merge the properties of nanomaterials with those of living cells is finally possible, bringing the real advantages of nanomaterials for therapeutic and diagnostic applications to patients.”

About Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is a diversified Health and Well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 133,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of EUR 27 billion in 2007, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at

About the University of Urbino

The University of Urbino ‘Carlo Bo’ is a medium size italian university with about 900 permanent staff and more that 18,000 students. Rated first in Italy among the medium size universities in Chemistry and third in the Medical sciences, it is actively involved in promoting research and technology transfer. It provides a unique environment for students and staff that facilitates collaborations, learning and an excellent quality of life. Further information can be found at


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