Oncology and Imaging


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


Malignant tumours represent the second most frequent cause of death in Europe, after cardiovascular diseases. Each year approximately 1.6 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed and around 1 million deaths of cancer are reported. In Germany, between 2006 and 2008 the number of new cancer patients rose from ca. 427,000 to ca. 470,000, which is around 10%. In the same time period, the number of cancer related-deaths increased from 210,930 to 215,442.
In general, chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy are the common available tumour therapy options. The drawback of chemotherapy is its systemic application, which can lead to severe side effects. Because of this the patients’ tolerance for the different chemotherapeutics is limiting the applicable dose. This often leads to the situation where the optimal drug dose in the tumour cannot be reached.
To circumvent this problem, the subgroup “Oncology and Imaging” is developing a new method for the local accumulation of pharmaceuticals by means of nanoparticles. “Magnetic Drug Targeting” (MDT) is using chemotherapeutics, which are bound to the surface of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. These drug-loaded particles are produced and are prepared sterile in the SEON-subgroup “Synthesis and Characterisation” for the different preclinical test series.
Currently this ready-to-use nanoparticle-drug combination is being tested for efficacy in preclinical animal cancer models.
Before the treatment, the vessels in the tumour area are depicted by angiography, to identify the tumour supporting arteries. For this reason, a state of the art angiographic device (C-arm cone beam CT, Artis zee floor, Siemens Healthcare, Forchheim, Germany) was installed at SEON in cooperation with Siemens Healthcare and Siemens Cooperate Technology and funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the “Center of Excellence for Medical Engineering”.
Subsequently, the nanoparticles are applied intraarterially under X-ray control near the tumour and are accumulated in the tumour and the surrounding tissue by a strong magnetic field. Due to their physical properties, the distribution of the nanoparticles in the tumour area can be visualized with magnet resonance imaging (MRI). By that means, the effectiveness of the particle accumulation and hence the drug deposition can be controlled directly after the intervention.
Thus, it can be ensured that the active drug reaches the tumour in a higher concentration, while the overall dose is considerably reduced. This is leading to a better therapeutic success and simultaneously to reduced side-effects for the patients.
In May 2013, SEON published the effectiveness of MDT in the largest animal study worldwide (Efficient drug-delivery using magnetic nanoparticles – biodistribution and therapeutic effects in tumour bearing rabbits; Nanomedicine, 2013).

Leadership and Contact



Publications can be reviewed on PubMed.


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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Comprehensive Cancer Center
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