Jeff Bulte. Credit: JHU
Jeff W.M. Bulte, professor of radiology, biomedical engineering, and chemical & biomolecular engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, recently won the National Institutes of Health’s new EUREKA grant. (EUREKA stands for Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration.) Bulte was one of 38 U.S. scientists to earn the distinction. Bulte will receive $200,000 per year for four years from NIH and will direct the funds to develop a new technique called magnetic particle imaging (MPI) as a means of visualizing transplanted stem cells in the brains of animals with stroke. Bulte is an affiliated faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology and Director of the Cellular Imaging Section in the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.
Developed by Philips Research Europe as a totally new imaging modality, MPI uses strong magnetic fields to produce images, much like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). But unlike MRI, which produces images of tissue in response to the magnetic fields created by the particles, MPI visualizes the magnetic nanoparticles directly, once loaded into cells and injected into the body. This creates a much more sensitive and quantitative “hot spot“ image than the ones created by MRI. As the method can count the actual number of cells being traced, “cellular therapeutic efficacy can be better evaluated,“ Bulte says.
“There is little question the field of cellular therapeutics will ultimately become important in treating or possibly curing several neurodegenerative diseases,“ Bulte says. “In order for us to make this a reality, we need non-invasive methods for tracking where these cells actually go within the body, to better understand then underlying mechanisms that drive cellular homing and migration, and to determine how many arrive at the target site.“
Bulte has established a close alliance with Philips Healthcare to further develop MPI for eventual clinical use.
To learn more about Jeff Bulte’s research, go to his personal INBT page at http://inbt.jhu.edu/facultyexpertise.php?id=personalresult&usr=14