Nanomagnetic Medical Engineering

 

Iron-based magnetic nanoparticles enable delivery of therapeutic drugs at the tumor site preventing side effects in healthy organs. And even more: They enable the visualization of otherwise “invisible” implants, supporting physicians.

  Two scientists standing hold a test tube with nanoparticles inside a coil Copyright: Benedikt Marcowka

The group of Dr. Slabu investigates superparamagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles for their application in essentially two medical fields:

1. Modeling of delivery and release of therapeutic systems
2. Smart implants with magnetic nanoparticles

Tiny magnetic particles for huge support in medicine

In 1959, the renowned physicist and Nobel Prize winner Richard P. Feynman envisioned in one of his famous lectures a tiny mechanical surgeon inside a vessel. The surgeon finds out which part of the body is “faulty” and “takes a little knife and slices it out”. “Other small machines might be permanently incorporated in the body to assist some inadequately-functioning organ”, said Feynman. Richard Feynman’s vision of almost sixty years ago is reality now. The “small machines” he talked about without having any idea of how they should look like are investigated in the group of Dr. Slabu in the form of superparamagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles, the so-called SPIOs. In contrast to a refrigerator magnet, the SPIOs are magnetic only in the presence of an external magnetic field. This feature describes their superparamagnetic behavior, which allows SPIOs to turn into tiny magnets that can be navigated in a controlled way – even in the human body.