Cardiovascular Nanomedicine


Head of Department:
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h. c. Heinrich Iro


Cardiovascular Nanomedicine group at the Section of Experimental Oncology and Nanomedicine (SEON) focuses on the application of nanomedical strategies for the detection and treatment of atherosclerosis. In spite of the recent developments in imaging techniques, many vulnerable plaques still evade the timely detection. Employing ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (USPIO), which accumulate in macrophages, in order to refine the magnetic resonance imaging should improve the identifiocation and characterization of atherosclerotic plaques and reduce the risk of acute cardiovascular events. We are currently investigating the utility of dextran-coated USPIO for plaque accumulation and characterization in animal model. The conventional pharmacologic therapy of the clinical manifestations of atherosclerosis uses systemic drug administration. This approach has several serious disadvantages, such as considerable side-effects, or low efficacy at tolerated doses. Nanotechnology has the potential to overcome these disadvantages, e.g. by magnetic drug targeting to atherosclerotic plaques. This approach promises a locally-targeted treatment of plaques, which is expected to substantially minimize adverse effects, by lowering the drug cytotoxicity and reducing the required dosage. We are currently investigating the possibility of magnetic particle accumulation under arterial flow conditions ex vivo and the efficacy of magnetic drug targeting in animal model of atherosclerosis. Another key topic of our work is related to biomaterials for cardiovascular applications. In cooperation with Institute of Biomaterials (FAU), we analyse the cell-compatibility of different alginate-based hydrogels for 3D vessel printing and investigate the possibility of improving colonization of polymeric biomatrices using magnetic cell seeding technique. Furthermore, in cooperation with the Department of Functional Materials in Medicine and Dentistry (University Hospital Würzburg), we pursue research aiming at biofabrication of pre-endothelialized microvascular networks based on thermoresponsive polymer technology.


1. DFG: “Nanomedical approach to prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis”; 2018-2020

2. DFG: SFB/TRR 225 Biofabrication: „Pre-endothelialized perfusable microvascular networks for biofabrication of standardized in vitro tissue models“; 2018-2021

3. DFG: Development of endothelialised small diameter tissue-engineered grafts for cardiovascular surgery; 2017-2019

4. BMBF: Small diameter vascular prostheses with bioactive coating – analysis of hemocompatibility and endothelial cell response (BioCoatGraft); 2018-2020

5. European Union “NanoAthero” project: Nanomedicine for target-specific imaging and treatment of atherothrombosis: Development and initial clinical feasibility; Large Scale 7th Framework Program; 2013-2018.

Leadership and Contact



Publications can be reviewed on PubMed .

Cooperation Partners

Prof. Dr. med. Raymund E. Horch
Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Department of Plastic and Hand Surgery

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Margarete Goppelt-Strübe
Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Department of Medicine 4 - Nephrology and Hypertension

Prof. Dr. med. Christoph D. Garlichs
Internal Medicine Clinic at the DIAKO Hospital Flensburg, Germany

PD Dr. med. Michael  Joner
Department of Cardiology, German Heart Center Munich, Germany

Prof. Dr. Dr. med. Oliver Söhnlein
LMU Munich, Germany

Dr. Didier Letourneur
Inserm U1148, Laboratory for Vascular Translational Science (LVTS), Paris, France

Prof. Dr. med. Harald Mangge
Clinical Institute of Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnosis (CIMCL), Medical University of Graz, Austria

Prof. Dro János Szebeni, Dr. László Dézsi
Nanomedicine Research and Education Center, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

Dr. Barbara Dietel
Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Laboratory of Molecular Cardiology, Dept. of Cardiology and Angiology,  Germany

Prof. Dr. Aldo R. Boccaccini, Dr.-Ing. Rainer Detsch
Institute of  Biomaterials, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Groll
Department of Functional Materials in Medicine and Dentistry, University Hospital Würzburg, Germany

Dr. med. Martin Laser
Praxisgemeinschaft Innere am Stadtpark, Nürnberg

Dr. Hanna Hlawaty
Inserm U1148, Université Paris 13, Laboratory for Vascular Translational Science, Groupe Biothérapies et Glycoconjugués, Bobigny, France

Prof. Dr. Tomasz Ciach
Warsaw University of Technology, Laboratory of BioMedical Engineering, Warsaw, Poland


10 years SEON
Nanopartikel mit Ultraschall sichtbar machen
Manfred-Roth-Foundation supports SEON research project

Donations account

Forschungsstiftung Medizin at the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen

Sparkasse Erlangen
IBAN: DE 69 76350000 0000062000
Intended use:
Nanomedizin Prof. Alexiou

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