Microswimmers" make a big splash for improved drug delivery

Jan 12, 2009

They may never pose a challenge to Olympic superstar Michael Phelps, but the "microswimmers" developed by researchers in Spain and the United Kingdom could break a long-standing barrier to improving delivery of medications for cancer and other diseases. They describe the development of tiny, magnetically controlled particles, called "microswimmers," that doctors could use to precisely deliver medicine to diseased tissue. Their report appears in the December 25, 2008 issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

In the new study, Pietro Tierno and colleagues note that scientists tried for years to develop tiny engines that can move micro and nanomachines through tight spaces, such as blood vessels and lab-on-a chip devices. But existing engines are slow, difficult to maneuver, and must undergo alterations in their shape, chemistry or temperature in order to work. The design of simple, more practical engines to power these tiny, robotic machines remains a major challenge, the researchers say.

The scientists describe a solution — tiny beads, about 1/25,000 of an inch in diameter, made of plastic and magnetic materials. When exposed to a magnetic field, the particles spun like a gyroscope and could be easily directed to move though narrow channels of liquids inside a glass plate, the researchers say. The scientists could control the speed of the "microswimmers" by varying the strength of the magnetic field.

Article: "Magnetically Actuated Colloidal Microswimmers", pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/p… ll/10.1021/jp808354n

Source: ACS

Explore further: Privileged strategies for direct transformations of inert aliphatic carbon-hydrogen bonds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The science that stumped Einstein

Jul 01, 2014

In 1908, the physics world woke up to a puzzle whose layers have continued to stump the greatest scientists of the century ever since. That year, Dutch physicist Kamerlingh Onnes cooled mercury down to -450° ...

Measuring the mass of 'massless' electrons

Jun 23, 2014

(Phys.org)—Individual electrons in graphene are massless, but when they move together, it's a different story. Graphene, a one-atom-thick carbon sheet, has taken the world of physics by storm—in part, ...

Recommended for you

Two teams pave way for advances in 2D materials

4 hours ago

This month's headlines on two-dimensional polymers showed noteworthy headway. "2-D Polymer Crystals Confirmed At Last," said Chemical & Engineering News. "Engineers Make the World's First Verified, 2-Dimensional P ...

Nature inspires a greener way to make colorful plastics

23 hours ago

Long before humans figured out how to create colors, nature had already perfected the process—think stunning, bright butterfly wings of many different hues, for example. Now scientists are tapping into ...

User comments : 0