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Harnessing Nanotechnology in the Fight Against Cancer

December 14, 2011

Professor Sylvain Martel is already a world leader in the field of nano-robotics, but now he’s working to make a medical dream reality: To deliver toxic drug treatments directly to cancerous cells without damaging the body’s healthy tissue.

The director of École Polytechnique de Montréal’s NanoRobotics Laboratory, Prof. Martel’s achievements include being the first researcher to guide a magnetic sphere through a living pig’s carotid artery. Now, he’s again pushing the envelope with an ambitious new project to deliver a drug via magnetic resonance.

To read more, check the Globe & Mail article from December 14, 2011, here.

New Advanced Grant from the European Research Council

November 20, 2011

Prof. Paul Steinmann and his team from the Institute of Applied Mechanics (LTM) at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) just received a 2.5 Mio Euro 5-year grant from the European Research council to research magneto-sensitive elastomers. This category of intelligent materials is comprised of a rubber-like substrate, charged with magnetic particles. For the rapid and, above all, targeted deformation of these materials a weak magnetic field is sufficient. It is precisely this characteristic that makes magneto-sensitive elastomers so interesting for numerous practical applications including industrial process measurement and control, whereby elastomers convert electronic signals into movement – much the same as muscles do. To read more, see here.

Report from the 11th German Ferrofluid Workshop 2011

November 15, 2011

Around 60 mainly German scientists met from 28th to 30th of September 2011 in the “Cloister Benediktbeuern” in Bavaria, Germany to hold the 11th Germany Ferrofluid Workshop”. Altogether 16 oral presentations were given and 34 posters presented. The annual meeting of leading experts in the field of ferrofluids and magnetic nanoparticles is organized by “The Ferrofluid Society Germany” (www.ferrofluid­verein.de) and found its home after taking place at different venues in the past in the famous and beautiful cloister Benediktbeuern. Chair of the workshop and “The Ferrofluid Society Germany” is Prof. Dr. Stefan Odenbach from the Technical University Dresden.

If you are interested in reading about the exciting topics discussed at this workshop, then please don't miss the report from Silvio Dutz available here.

Magnetically Controlled Pill

November 13, 2011

A new magnetic pill system developed by Brown University researchers could solve the problem by safely holding a pill in place in the intestine wherever it needs to be. The two main components of the system are conventional-looking gelatin capsules that contain a tiny magnet, and an external magnet that can precisely sense the force between it and the pill and vary that force, as needed, to hold the pill in place. The external magnet can sense the pill's position, but because the pill is opaque to x-rays, the researchers were also able to see the pill in the rat's bodies during their studies.

For more information, check out the PNAS article by Bryan Laulicht, Edith Mathiowitz et al.

Atomic Structure of Nanoparticles Measured

November 05, 2011

For the first time, scientists have managed to measure the atomic structure of individual nanoparticles. The experimental data could help better understand the properties of nanoparticles in future.

In chemical terms, nanoparticles have different properties from their “big brothers and sisters”: they have a large surface area in relation to their tiny mass and at the same time a small number of atoms. This can produce quantum effects that lead to altered material properties. Ceramics made of nanomaterials can suddenly become bendy, for instance, or a gold nugget is gold-coloured while a nanosliver of it is reddish. Up to now, very little research has been carried out on the effects of these altered properties on living organisms. Only recently, a study caused quite a stir by suggesting that nanoparticles like titanium oxide in toothpaste or sun cream have a similar effect on the human lung as asbestos.  More here.

Iron Oxide Nanocubes Enhance MRI

October 17, 2011

Uniformly sized ferrimagnetic magnetite nanocubes coated with a polyethylene glycol-phospholipid matrix could be used as contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging. The researchers that the nanocubes could outperform commercial and experimental contract agents for imaging and tracking cells in vitro and in vivo. In the image to the left, the presence of the iron oxide nanoparticles caused pancreatic islets transplanted into a pig’s liver to appear as blue spots in a color-enhanced in vivo MRI. Please click HERE for more information. 

Electromagnetic Liquid Pistons

October 17, 2011

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed liquid pistons of oscillating droplets of nanoparticle infused ferrofluids that can be used to pump small volumes of liquid when pulsated. This technology can also function as liquid lenses that vibrate at high speeds and move in and out of focus as they change shape. The pistons could have applications in new generation cameras, medical imaging equipment, novel drug delivery systems and even implantable eye lenses! Please click HERE for more information. 

Charité Establishes NanoTherm® Therapy for the Treatment of Recurrent Brain Tumors

October 08, 2011

Universitätsmedizin Berlin has established a new treatment at the Clinic for Radiooncology, Campus Virchow, which offers selected patients a nanomedicine approach for the treatment of recurrent brain tumors. Dr. Andreas Jordan at Charité developed the magnetic nanoparticle-based cancer therapy and is now marketing it through MagForce Nanotechnologies AG, a Charité spin off company.

The principle of the therapy is the use of nanoparticles containing iron oxide, which are injected into brain tumor in a procedure similar to a biopsy. The treatment is carried out in a magnetic field applicator (NanoActivator™), a machine that produces an alternating magnetic field and is very safe for humans. Through this high frequency magnetic field, the nanoparticles begin to oscillate and heat is produced from directly within the tumor tissue. Depending on the temperature reached and length of treatment, the tumor cells are either directly destroyed or sensitized for the accompanying chemotherapy or radiation.  This novel therapy has the potential to improve the survival for patients with recurrent glioblastoma, an especially malignant type of brain tumor.

The clinical trial that lead to the therapy’s European approval has been written up in a recent paper. The median overall survival from diagnosis of the first tumor recurrence among the 59 patients with recurrent glioblastoma was 13.4 months (95% CI: 10.6–16.2 months). This is significantly better than historical comparisons, actually by about 8 months! Please check out the details here.

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