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Nanoparticles against Cancer: Humboldt-Prizewinner Visiting Scientist at UDE

Since January Prof. Dr. Sotiris E. Pratsinis, winner of the award for research of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, is visiting scientist at the Universität Duisburg-Essen (UDE) from the ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Associated with the prize of 60.000 euro he got the chance doing research for a few months with German colleagues in specific projects.

Pratsinis has chosen the UDE and the working group 'Nanoparticle Process Technology' (NPPT) of Prof. Dr. Markus Winterer at the Institut für Verbrennung und Gasdynamik for its outstanding professors and highly motivated students with whom he has been building a long lasting relationship for years to come.

Since 1998, Professor Pratsinis teaches process technology at the ETH Zürich with emphasis on mass transfer, particle technology and combustion synthesis of nanomaterials. Prior to this he was in USA for 18 years at the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Cincinnati. In Duisburg, he is going to spend his time on basic research in nanoparticles: He focuses on gas-phase coating the tiny objects and observing in simulation how they bond together and how the conditions of synthesis influence their characteristics, properties and performance in various applications. Knowing the nanoparticles' characteristics is important to employ them properly for example in biomedical applications.

Having invented a bio-detector in 2010, Pratsinis and his colleagues have already documented that nanoparticles are highly efficient in the modern art of healing. Their sensor made of flame-synthesized and directly-deposited mixed ceramics on gold electrodes is able to diagnose diabetes by analyzing the exhaled human breath by measuring its acetone content. "Everyone has a little bit of this chemical compound", says Pratsinis. "But people with diabetes release unusually much more when they exhale."

Depending on how the little particles are coated they can carry and deliver appropriate medication much more efficiently. Experiments at the ETH show they are for instance capable to find cancer cells. Soon the particles might link up with and quite likely destroy them using electromagnetic radiation. This alternative is "extremely interesting" for smashing tumours non-invasively.

Clue for picture editors: You can download a photo of Prof. Pratsiris' at: http://www.uni-due.de/de/presse/pi_fotos.php (photo: private).

More information: - http://www.uni-due.de/ivg/nano/team.shtml - Prof. Dr. Sotiris E. Pratsinis, phone 049 203/379-2962 sotiris.pratsinis@ptl.mavt.ethz.ch

Editor: Alexandra Niessen, phone 049 203/379-2461

idw :: 13.03.2012