Nanomagnets guide stem cells to damaged tissue

August 17, 2009

Microscopic magnetic particles have been used to bring stem cells to sites of cardiovascular injury in a new method designed to increase the capacity of cells to repair damaged tissue, UCL scientists announced today.

The cross disciplinary research, published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions, demonstrates a technique where endothelial progenitor - a type of stem cell shown to be important in vascular healing processes - have been magnetically tagged with a tiny iron-containing clinical agent, then successfully targeted to a site of arterial injury using a magnet positioned outside the body.

Following magnetic targeting, there was a five-fold increase in cell localisation at a site of vascular injury in rats. The team also demonstrated a six-fold increase in cell capture in an in vitro flow system (where microscopic particles are suspended in a stream of fluid and examined to see how they behave).

Although magnetic fields have been used to guide cellular therapies, this is the first time cells have been targeted using a method directly applicable to clinical practice. The technique uses an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved agent that is already used to monitor cells in humans using ().

Dr Mark Lythgoe, UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, the senior author on the study, said: "Because the material we used in this method is already FDA approved we could see this technology being applied in human clinical trials within 3-5 years. It's feasible that heart attacks and other vascular injuries could eventually be treated using regular injections of magnetised . The technology could be adapted to localise cells in other organs and provide a useful tool for the systemic injection of all manner of cell therapies. And it's not just limited to cells - by focusing tagged antibodies or viruses using this method, cancerous tumours could be much more specifically targeted"

Panagiotis Kyrtatos, also from the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging and lead researcher of the study, added: "This research tackles one of the most critical challenges in the biomedical sciences today: ensuring the effective delivery and retention of cellular therapies to specific targets within the body.

"Cell therapies could greatly benefit from nano-magnetic techniques which concentrate cells where they are needed most. The nano-magnets not only assist with the targeting, but with the aid of MRI also allow us to observe how the cells behave once they're injected."

This work was supported by public and charitable funding from the UCL Institute of Child Health (Child Health Research Appeal Trust), The British Heart Foundation, the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

More information: The paper "Magnetic tagging increases delivery of circulating progenitors in vascular injury" is published online ahead of print in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions.

Source: University College London (news : web)

Explore further: Gene that magnetically labels cells shows potential as imaging tool

Related Stories

Researchers use magnetism to target cells to animal arteries

January 7, 2008

Scientists have used magnetic fields and tiny iron-bearing particles to drive healthy cells to targeted sites in blood vessels. The research, done in animals, may lead to a new method of delivering cells and genes to repair ...

Tiny magnets offer breakthrough in gene therapy for cancer

April 17, 2008

A revolutionary cancer treatment using microscopic magnets to enable 'armed' human cells to target tumours has been developed by researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Research ...

Recommended for you

Chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam

June 21, 2017

Nanotechnologists from Rice University and China's Tianjin University have used 3-D laser printing to fabricate centimeter-sized objects of atomically thin graphene.

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

June 21, 2017

Versatile, light-weight materials that are both strong and resilient are crucial for the development of flexible electronics, such as bendable tablets and wearable sensors. Aerogels are good candidates for such applications, ...

Neuron transistor behaves like a brain neuron

June 20, 2017

(Phys.org)—Researchers have built a new type of "neuron transistor"—a transistor that behaves like a neuron in a living brain. These devices could form the building blocks of neuromorphic hardware that may offer unprecedented ...

0 comments

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.