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Materials and biophysical characterization technology

The Jagiellonian University in Poland uses Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis
to characterize catalytic nanoparticles for environmental applications

Malvern Instruments' NanoSight Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis, NTA, is being used in the Faculty of Chemistry of the Jagiellonian University for the characterization of catalytic materials used in environmental applications such as N2O decomposition and soot oxidation.

Dr Pawel Stelmachowski is an assistant professor in the Materials and Surface Chemistry Group at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. "UJ," as it is known, is Poland's oldest university having been founded in the mid-fourteenth century. The Group's research goals are the design, development and optimisation of catalytic materials. These are used mainly for environmental applications such as N
2O decomposition and soot oxidation. The phase cooperation of crystallites of different sizes and deposition of active phase on monolithic supports requires sizing and characterization measurements and this is why NTA was chosen.

Describing his practical reasons for choosing NTA, Dr Stelmachowski said: "It's useful to evaluate the particle sizes prior to the TEM analysis which is much more expensive and time consuming and which requires good quality samples. We want to know the size and dispersion of the active phase particles prior to deposition on monolithic substrate. We'll soon be launching a new facility for continuous flow synthesis in supercritical conditions. Here, the synthesis product will be analysed directly from the reactor in suspension. As different experimental conditions will yield products of different sizes, using NTA will be very important to this research."

Continuing to describe his experiences, Dr Stelmachowski said "Before using NTA, I used dynamic light scattering (DLS) but encountered several problems whereas NTA is fast and easy to operate. The most very important feature for me is that NTA works with powders in suspension so the sedimentation and presence of big particles is not an issue here as it was with DLS. Powders with large dispersion of particle sizes are much more easily characterized. The thing with sedimentation is that it is caused by the presence of very large particles, usually from not very well-ground powder. This means the preparation of the sample is less demanding, much easier with NTA."

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St George's Hospital uses Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis
to study extracellular vesicles as biomarkers for diseases

Malvern Instruments' Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis, NTA, is being used at St George's, University of London, to explore extracellular vesicles as a potential source of biomarkers, by identifying proteins or peptides differentially expressed between healthy subjects and patients with rare inherited diseases.

St George's, University of London, is the UK's only independent medical and healthcare higher education institution. Dr Bridget Bax is a senior research fellow in the Clinical Sciences Division where the main focus of her group's research is to improve the understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms of rare inherited diseases and to develop novel therapies for translation into the clinical setting. One of their major areas of interest is the identification and validation of biomarkers in patients with the rare and fatal disease mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE). They are currently exploring the use of extracellular vesicles as source of biomarkers by identifying proteins or peptides differentially expressed between healthy subjects and patients with MNGIE. The goals of this work are three-fold: to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms and metabolic derangements observed in patients with MNGIE; to provide a means of monitoring more effectively clinical and biochemical response to therapy; and to enable the tracking of disease progression in diagnosed patients.

Picture: Michelle Levene, a PhD student of the Clinical Sciences Division at St Georges uses the NanoSight LM10 NTA system used to characterize proteins and peptides.

Describing her work, Dr Bax said "We have used several methods in the lab to isolate both exosomes and microparticles. We needed a reproducible method that would allow us to i) quantitate and size the extracellular vesicles we isolated and ii) determine whether the isolation technique employed affected these parameters. Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis has allowed us to quantify extracellular vesicles with diameters in the range of 50 to 1000 nm. This was particularly important for us because we specifically wanted to study exosomes which have a diameter ranging from 40 to 100 nm."

Prior to using NTA, initially the group used electron microscopy and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), a biophysical technique used in flow cytometry. Using FACS, Dr Bax said "We were unable to detect exosomes and found that a significant number of microparticles were missed due to not detecting vesicles with a diameter of less than 300 nm. Although it was possible to size extracellular vesicles using electron microscopy, this is a time intensive technique and has the potential disadvantages of causing shrinkage."

Dr Bax went on to discuss her thoughts on using NTA: "The benefits are the ability to detect particles within the size range of interest. NTA uses small sample volumes which is extremely important in terms of the rare diseases we study. We find the system easy to use."

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New software for Malvern's NanoSight NTA systems
improves user experience and enhances performance  

Malvern Instruments has launched NTA 3.0, a new version of the software that drives its NanoSight Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) systems. With an improved, easy-to-use interface, the new NTA 3.0 software makes accessing programs and protocols quick and convenient. It also incorporates an upgraded high-resolution particle size distribution algorithm, and supports advanced image analysis, particle detection and tracking, as well as providing improved vibration correction. The new software is designed for use across the complete NanoSight NTA range and will be integral to all new systems shipped, while existing users can download their free upgrade via the appropriate product page on the Malvern website. 

Image: A new user interface is just one of the features of NTA 3.0, the new version software for NanoSight Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis systems from Malvern.

Malvern NanoSight systems use Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) to characterize nanoparticles in solution in the size range 10 nm to 2000 nm (depending on the sample). Each particle is analyzed individually by direct observation and measurement of diffusion events. This particle-by-particle methodology produces high resolution results for particle size distribution and concentration, while visual validation provides additional data confidence. Both particle size and concentration are measured, while a fluorescence mode provides differentiation of labeled or naturally fluorescing particles.
NTA 3.0 features automatic, integrated hardware detection and communication for all the systems in the NanoSight range. Compared with previous versions it generates fewer files per experiment and results are displayed on clear, concise spreadsheets. Particle size distributions are shown as histograms for easy interpretation.
NanoSight NTA systems are part of Malvern's expanding portfolio for characterization at the nanoscale. By updating software for greater ease of use and more efficient testing, NanoSight NTA users can be sure of getting the best possible performance from their system. Visit the Malvern website for details or to download:

NanoSight NS300 2) NanoSight LM10 3) NanoSight NS500

Malvern, Malvern Instruments, NanoSight are registered trademarks of Malvern Instruments Ltd.

Malvern Instruments in profile
Malvern provides the materials and biophysical characterization technology and expertise that enables scientists and engineers to understand and control the properties of dispersed systems. These systems range from proteins and polymers in solution, particle and nanoparticle suspensions and emulsions, through to sprays and aerosols, industrial bulk powders and high concentration slurries. Used at all stages of research, development and manufacturing, Malvern's materials characterization instruments provide critical information that helps accelerate research and product development, enhance and maintain product quality and optimize process efficiency.
Malvern's products reflect its drive to exploit the latest technological innovations and their commitment to maximizing the potential of established techniques. They are used by both industry and academia, in sectors ranging from pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals to bulk chemicals, cement, plastics and polymers, energy and the environment.
Malvern systems are used to measure particle size, particle shape, zeta potential, protein charge, molecular weight, mass, size and conformation, nanoparticle size and count, rheological properties and for chemical identification, advancing the understanding of dispersed systems across many different industries and applications.
Headquartered in Malvern, UK, Malvern Instruments has subsidiary organizations in all major European markets, North America, Mexico, China, Japan and Korea, a joint venture in India, a global distributor network and applications laboratories around the world.

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