Magnetic nanoparticles have been researched extensively over the last few years as vectors for targeted delivery of drugs within the body. While the idea is full of promise, in practice using magnets to guide these particles to locations deep within the body has been difficult since magnets only pull one way and only areas close to the surface were subject to getting high enough concentrations of the nanoparticles. Now researchers from University of Maryland partnered with Weinberg Medical Physics, a Bethesda-based firm, to develop a technique that uses magnets to propel ferromagnetic particles within the interior of the body.
The system uses external magnets placed around the body and facing each other. Short magnetic pulses are used to create momentary magnetic fields that can influence the orientation and motion of the particles. They tested the technique using ferromagnetic nanorods and showed that the magnetic pulses can be used to orient the rods without actually tugging at them and to immediately push them toward the desired location before they snap back to their original spot. While the experiment was conducted in a laboratory, it’s showing considerable promise for clinical applications and studies using animals are the next step in validating this technology.
The research partnership has led to the formation of Iron Focus Medical, a spin-off that plans to push the technology toward commercialization.
Here’s a video showing how the ferromagnetic nanorods are repeatedly pushed towards a target:
Company page: Iron Focus Medical…