Magnetic Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery

Magnetic nanoparticles are a type of nanoparticle that can be manipulated or controlled through a magnetic field.

Magnetic Nanoparticles

Nanoscience is one of the most thriving research areas in modern science. It has opened the doors for scientists, physicians, chemists, and engineers to work at the cellular and molecular levels. As a result, vital advances in life sciences and healthcare have emerged.

There are many ways in which nanoparticles are used, mainly due to their physicochemical properties and unique size. Today, nanoparticles are applied in areas such as biotechnology, medical, science, biomedical, and engineering.

Magnetic nanoparticles are nanomaterials containing magnetic elements, including nickel, iron, chromium, cobalt, gadolinium, manganese, and their chemical compounds. This type of nanoparticle offers great potentials in many applications, like drug delivery in the medical field.

Titanium dioxide TiO2 nanoparticles, 3D illustration. TiO2 nanoparticles have shape of hexagonal crystals, they are used in medicine, chemistry, cosmetics, paper industry.  Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock
Titanium dioxide TiO2 nanoparticles, 3D illustration. TiO2 nanoparticles have shape of hexagonal crystals, they are used in medicine, chemistry, cosmetics, paper industry. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock

Physical Properties of Magnetic Nanoparticles

The physical properties of magnetic nanoparticles depend on the method of synthesis and chemical structure. Magnetic nanoparticles manifest superparamagnetism, which is caused by thermal effects, giving these particles no hysteresis and zero coercivity. When nanoparticles are in this state, an external magnetic field can magnetize them; when the field has been removed, there is no magnetization. This property makes magnetic nanoparticles a good method to use in targeted drug delivery.

Applications

Diagnostics

One of the most popular diagnostic scans today uses magnetic nanoparticles. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is widely used as an excellent diagnostic tool to provide high-end images of the structure and function of tissues. This type of diagnostic tool has good biocompatibility and improved sensitivity.

Sensors

Magnetic nanoparticles are widely used in sensors due to their unique magnetic properties.

Drug Delivery

Magnetic nanoparticles are used in localized drug delivery to tumors in people with cancer.

Magnetic Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery

Magnetic nanoparticles have been developed for localized drug delivery for patients with cancers. These are directed to the tumor, by acting as a carrier of the drug. Once the drug has reached the patient’s bloodstream, a magnetic field is applied to retain the particles in the targeted site of the tumor. This has become one of the most promising treatment options for cancer patients today. Since the strength of the magnetic field goes down rapidly with distance from the body surface, implanted magnets have been suggested by some researchers, to allow the magnetic field to be applied near the target of the drug, inside the body.

The use of magnetic nanoparticles in drug targeting has dramatically increased over the past years. When used with an external magnetic field, these nanoparticles can be controlled to carry the drug to the site, fix the particles in place while the medicine is released, and perform magnetic drug targeting.

Magnetic nanoparticles in localized or targeted drug delivery reduce the risk of certain side effects, unlike in conventional cancer therapies such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Also, targeted drug delivery can reduce the dosage used in the treatment.

Physical Principle

Magnetic targeting is based on the principle that the attraction of magnetic nanoparticles to an external magnetic field source gives them the power of targeted drug delivery. When there is a magnetic field, there is a control center manipulating the particle or drug complex. As a result, the drug is delivered effectively to the target location.

Benefits

Magnetic nanoparticles in drug delivery are important to treat cancer, give the medicine to the target source or tumor, and provide effective gene delivery systems.

Some animal studies have been successful, but at present, the application of magnetic targeting in humans has not been launched commercially yet. However, there are clinical trials going on to prove the method’s efficacy. If successful in humans, this new method can be widely used as a modern cancer treatment, showing promise as a new method of killing cancer cells or tumor, without the harsh side effects of chemotherapy.

Despite many obstacles present in the use of magnetic nanoparticles in drug delivery, recent advances are exciting and can widely improve cancer treatment worldwide.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2018

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She recently completed a Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and is now working as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.

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