Title: Iron nanoparticles for biomedical applications – The SEON concept

Christoph Alexiou

University Hospital Erlangen, Germany


Prof. Dr. Christoph Alexiou, received his Ph.D. in 1995 from the Technical University of Munich, Medical school. After finishing his internship in the Gastroenterology Department at the Universityhospital of the Technical University he started as a physician and researcher at the Department of oto-rhino-laryngology, head and neck surgery and founded a research group working on the field of local chemotherapy with magnetic nanoparticles (Magnetic Drug Targeting). In the year 2000 he received his degree as an ENT-Physician and 2002 he changed to the ENT-Department in Erlangen, Germany, where he performed his postdoctoral lecture qualification (Habilitation). He is working there as an assistant medical director in the clinic and leads the Section for Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON). Since 2009 he owns the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation-Professorship for Nanomedicine at the Universityhospital Erlangen. He receives grants from the European Union, German Research Community (DFG), Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF) and Bavarian State Ministry of the Enviroment and Consumer Protection and is a member of the Executive Board of the European Technology Platform for Nanomedicine (ETPN). His research is addressing the emerging fields of  Diagnosis, Treatment and Regenerative Medicine using magnetic nanoparticles and the translation from basic research into clinical trials and published >150 papers in peer reviewed journals. He received for his research several national and international renowned awards.


Nanoscience has now matured and has been transitioned from bench science to applied technology; superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) are widely used in various scientific fields, not only on commercial scale but their wide use in biomedical science are more significant. Due to their tremendous behavior and applications, much effort has been invested for more than a decade, but unfortunately, successful pharmaceutical developments are still rare, despite very promising results. The main stumbling blocks are insufficiently addressed toxicity and the lack of appropriate particle stability in biological media. Even if these factors are adequately addressed, another important challenge which hampers the way to the clinic is the need to upscale the synthesis process from the milliliter lab scale to the liter scale and by doing so to meet the requirements from the regulatory authorities. At SEON we tackle exactly this issue and developed in the past a couple of iron oxide based formulations for drug targeting and contrast agents for MRI. These systems are well-designed to conform the physicochemical and toxicological requirements for their respective application. Due to a close collaboration with the Pharmacy Department of the Erlangen University Hospital, we are currently producing nanoparticles in the scaled up liter measure according to the highest possible international quality standard – the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Guidlines. Based on the very promising preclinical results we are planning to bring our nanoparticle-based formulations to the clinic in the near future, if the respective funding is existing.

Audience take away:

• Iron nanoparticles can be used in medicine for diagnostics (Imaging) and therapy (Drug Targeting, Precision Medicine)
• No adverse side effects due to innovative and intelligent nanoparticle based drug delivery
• Translation into clinics using the SEON-concept becomes concrete reality if the respective funding is existing
• High scientific, medical and economic adding value