Are additional features meant to be set up on the surface of nanodiamonds?
Happel: That depends on what you are using the nanoparticles for. One obvious option is to functionalize the surface of nanodiamonds with specific antibodies. Multiple functionalizations with an antibody and a drug are also a possibility. Ultimately, nearly all previously conducted approaches with nanoparticles that are based on surface functionalization are also conceivable for nanodiamonds. If we succeed in transferring the marking processes from macroscopic diamonds to nanodiamonds, for the first time ever, nanodiamonds would offer the chance to track the application with imaging both on the cellular and the organ level. This in turn would make it possible to optimize individual therapy treatments and diagnostic procedures, to reduce side effects and to actually research new procedures.
Do the well-known imaging procedures still need to be adapted or is any device able to detect the signals?
Happel: Technically the procedures don’t need to be adapted. Our goal is to be able to detect the nanoparticle with the currently available technology. Of course, there might be devices where individual components need to be retrofitted.
When do you anticipate the procedure to be field ready?
Happel: We are currently working on developing the basic tool for medical application. If we succeed, the devil will be in the details for every single potential application. Unfortunately, this is why a realistic prediction is impossible.