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plastic news luminescent nanomaterialsNanoparticles made from a luminescent, biodegradable material could enable inflammatory diseases to be imaged in real-time, according to researchers [Guo et al., Materials Today (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.mattod.2017.09.003].

Inflammation is a key feature of disorders such as diabetes and is implicated in many other diseases from arthritis to cardiovascular disease to cancer. A type of white blood cells known as neutrophils play a central role in the body’s inflammatory response and initiate chronic inflammatory diseases. The ability to detect, track, and quantify neutrophils in the body could provide a much-needed boost to the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Researchers from the Third Military Medical University and Zhejiang University in China, and the University of Chicago think they may have come up with a way to do just that in the form of nanoparticles derived from ring-shaped sugar molecules (cyclodextrin) functionalized with a luminol, a small luminescent molecular probe.

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