A wide variety of magnetic nanoparticles have been developed by researchers. These devices can be injected into tumors and, using a magnetic field, made to heat up and kill cancer cells. One major challenge with using such nanoparticles is that they are usually expected to be injected using a syringe directly into a tumor, but most tumors aren’t so easy to reach. A more systemic delivery method, which can let magnetic nanoparticles access deep-seated cancers, is very much needed.
Now, researchers at Oregon State University have reported in the journal ACS Nano that they have developed specially designed nanoclusters that have an extremely high heating efficiency, allowing only a few of them to generate the necessary temperatures to kill tumors from within. This means that systemic administration is more feasible, as even if only a portion of the injected dose of nanoclusters accumulates in the tumor, it may generate enough heat to damage or kill it.
The nanoclusters consist of a collection of iron oxide nanopartcles doped with cobalt and manganese. These are arranged into hexagons and placed inside biodegradable nanocarriers. After injection, a targeted alternating magnetic field can then be used to resonate and heat up the nanoclusters to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius).
“There had been many attempts to develop nanoparticles that could be administered systemically in safe doses and still allow for hot enough temperatures inside the tumor,” said Olena Taratula, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and one of the developers of the new nanoclusters. “Our new nanoplatform is a milestone for treating difficult-to-access tumors with magnetic hyperthermia. This is a proof of concept, and the nanoclusters could potentially be optimized for even greater heating efficiency.”
The team have already tested their devices in mice with ovarian tumors and showed that their nanoclusters tend to gather inside the tumors, appear to be non-toxic, and efficiently heat up the tumor tissue enough to destroy it.