Magnetic Nanoparticles Used To Draw Cancer Cells Together

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have completed a fascinating study using magnetic nanoparticles to gather metastasized cancer cells to a central location, thereby curbing metastatic spread of the disease.

The Georgia Tech scientists injected ovarian cancer cells that were dyed fluorescent green into mouse subjects.  Then they injected red-stained nanomagnets --  less than 1/100,000th of an inch each -- into the mice to select and bind to the cancer cells.

The cancer cells were dispersed by gentle massage, after which a magnet was placed on the belly of the mouse.  After 30 seconds, the nanomagnets attached to the green cancer cells could be seen in the mouse belly at the location of the outer magnet.

In a subsequent test, researchers magnetically drew the cancer cells to the side of a circulating pump, suggesting that in a dialysis-like procedure the cancer cells could be removed. 

Georgia Tech researchers theorized that nanomagnetic techniques could be used to keep cancer from spreading and to supplement cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and other therapeutic cancer treatments.  But before clinical trials are conducted, researchers need to make sure that the magnetic nanoparticles do not create toxic effects.

These research studies will appear in the July issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society., PopSci

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