Magnetic nanoparticles: Suitable for cancer therapy?

May 28, 2008

A measuring procedure developed in the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) can help to investigate in some detail the behaviour of magnetic nanoparticles which are used for cancer therapy.

Magnetic nanoparticles (with a size of some few to several hundred nanometres) are a new, promising means of fighting cancer. The particles serve as a carrier for drugs: "loaded" with the drugs, the nanoparticles are released into the blood stream, where they move until they come under the influence of a targeting magnetic field which holds them on to the tumour – until the drug has released its active agent.

Besides this pharmaceutical effect, also a physical action can be applied: an electromagnetic a.c. field heats up the accumulated particles so much that they destroy the tumour. Both therapeutic concepts have the advantage of largely avoiding undesired side effects on the healthy tissue.

These procedures have already been successfully been applied in the animal model and have, in part, already been tested on patients. Here it is important to know before application whether the particles tend to aggregate and thus might occlude blood vessels.

Information about this can be gained by magnetorelaxometry developed at the PTB. In this procedure, the particles are shortly magnetised by a strong magnetic field in order to measure their relaxation after the switch-off of the field by means of superconducting quantum interferometers, so-called "SQUIDs".

Conclusions on their aggregation behaviour in these media can be drawn from measurements of suspensions of nanoparticles in the serum or in whole blood. As an example, it could be shown in this way that certain nanoparticles in the blood serum form clusters with a diameter of up to 200 nm – a clear indication of aggregation, so that these nanoparticles do not appear to be suitable for therapy.

At present, the high technical effort connected with the use of helium-cooled magnetic field sensors is still standing in the way of using this method routinely in practice. In a joint project with Braunschweig Technical University supported by the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the procedure is currently being transferred to a simpler technology based on fluxgate magnetometers.

Source: Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt

Explore further: Researchers find new way to manipulate magnetism

Related Stories

Researchers find new way to manipulate magnetism

September 15, 2017

In a pioneering effort to control, measure and understand magnetism at the atomic level, researchers working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have discovered a new method for manipulating the nanoscale ...

Imaging how magnetism goes surfing

September 13, 2017

Using advanced dynamic imaging, researchers have been able to visualise deformation (sound) waves in crystals and measured the effect on nanomagnetic elements. This offers new low power magnetization manipulation for memory ...

Bringing atomic mapping to the mainstream

September 13, 2017

Mapping the internal atomic structure of small particles just got easier thanks to a new computer algorithm and graphical user interface (GUI) developed by scientists at and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley ...

Recommended for you

Holograms for molecules

September 25, 2017

Much can be detected in blood or urine: viral illnesses, metabolic disorders or autoimmune diseases can be diagnosed with laboratory tests, for instance. But such examinations often take a few hours and are quite complex, ...

Four elements make 2-D optical platform

September 21, 2017

Rice University scientists have discovered a two-dimensional alloy with an optical bandgap that can be tuned by the temperature used to grow it.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet May 29, 2008
If you can COOL the cell you can DE-CELERATE MITOSIS!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.