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Nanomagnets to kill cancer?

Posted on Wednesday, March 12 2008 @ 05:12:09 CET by

Scientists at the University of Edinburg are developing a way to combat tumours with tiny magnets made by bacteria:
A team at the University of Edinburgh has developed a method of making the nanomagnets stronger, opening the way for their use in cancer treatment.

The bacteria-produced magnets are better than man-made versions because of their uniform size and shape, the Nature Nanotechnology study reported.

It is hoped one day the magnets could be guided to tumour sites and then activated to destroy cancerous cells.

The bacteria take up iron from their surroundings and turn it into a string of magnetic particles.

They use the chains of particles like a needle of a compass to orientate themselves and search for oxygen-rich environments.

There has been a lot of interest in their potential application in medicine, but how useful they could be will depend on the strength of the magnets.


The ability of the nanomagnets to remain magnetised opens the way for their use in killing tumour cells, the researchers said.

They could be guided to the site of a tumour magnetically. Once there, applying an opposite magnetic field would cause the nanomagnets to heat up, destroying cells in the process.

They could also potentially be used to carry drugs directly to the cancerous tissue.
More info at BBC News.



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