Recent efforts between the University of Maryland (UMD) and Bethesda-based Weinberg Medical Physics LLC (WMP) have led to a new technique to magnetically deliver drug carrying particles to hard-to-reach targets. The method has the potential to transform the way deep-tissue tumors and other diseases are treated. UMD Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) alumnus Dr. Aleksandar Nacev and BioE and Institute for Systems Research Professor Benjamin Shapiro have teamed up with WMP to exploit fast pulsed magnetic fields to focus nano-therapeutic magnetic particles to deep targets.
Pulsed magnetic fields allowed the team to reverse the usual behavior of magnetic nano-particles. Instead of a magnet attracting the particles, they showed that an initial magnetic pulse can orient the rod shaped particles without pulling them, and then a subsequent pulse can push the particles before the particles can reorient. By repeating the pulses in sequence, the particles were focused to locations deep between the electromagnets.
To find out the details for yourself, check out the Nano Letters paper which is available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/nl503654t with a video showing the magnetic focusing at http://ter.ps/magnetic.
Many of us own size determination equipment from Malvern, for example DLS based instruments. Or since the addition of NanoSight to Malvern a year ago, one of their instruments. But you might not have seen their informative webinars on the latest technologies, applications, and research yet. They are now all available on Malvern's website, and you can watch the recorded version at your leisure here.
For examples, recent titles are:
Wow, Miltenyi is already 25 years old - how the time flies. They fittingly celebrate their achievements by publishing a MACS anniversary issue where they highlight how helpful magnetic particles are in today’s most promising approaches to cellular therapies, involving regulatory T cells, NK cells, stem cells, neural cells, and CAR-expressing T cells. The field of immunotherapy is becoming more and more important, as being able to regulate the behaviour of these cells will help to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases.
Miltenyi Biotec revolutionized cell processing for both basic research and clinical application. Their techniques help to unleash xenograft technology, which is a leap forward in cancer research. In their anniversary issue of MACS, you can check on two fold-out pages the milestones that got Miltenyi Biotec from their first product, the superparamagnetic biotin Microbeads, different columns and the MACS separator which allowed for magnetic isolation of cells, to today, with now fully automated systems for cell isolation, flow cytometry, cell soring and molecular analysis. A remarkable story. Check out their anniversary issue !
Detecting cancer could be as easy as popping a pill in the near future. Google’s head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, took to the stage at the Wall Street Journal Digital conference to reveal that the tech giant’s secretive Google[x] lab has been working on a wearable device that couples with nanotechnology to detect disease within the body.
“We’re passionate about switching from reactive to proactive and we’re trying to provide the tools that make that feasible,” explained Conrad. This is a third project in a series of health initiatives for Google[x]. The team has already developed a smart contact lens that detects glucose levels for diabetics and utensils that help manage hand tremors in Parkinson’s patients.
The plan is to test whether tiny particles coated “magnetized” with antibodies can catch disease in its nascent stages. The tiny particles are essentially programmed to spread throughout the body via pill and then latch on to the abnormal cells. The wearable device then “calls” the nanoparticles back to ask them what’s going on with the body and to find out if the person who swallowed the pill has cancer or other diseases. For more, click here.
Groundwater in the Indian state of West Bengal naturally contains arsenic, causing ailments including skin diseases and cancer. Thanks to nanotechnology, thousands of people there have gained access to arsenic-free water since 2013, with the installation of treatment tanks using porous granules developed by a team at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, led by chemistry professor Thalappil Pradeep. The technology has received government support for field-testing as an option for low-cost, point-of-use water treatment.
The granules are nanocomposites made from ferric oxyhydroxide and a biopolymer, chitosan. Iron oxides remove arsenic ions from water by adsorption. The team boosted their metal oxyhydroxide’s activity by reducing the particle size to nanoscale, thereby increasing the surface-to-volume ratio, and anchoring the material within a network of chitosan. With this structure, which resembles sand and is made at room temperature, embedded particles don’t leach into water, and the captured arsenic stays put. What goes on “in the atomic scale is not completely understood,” Pradeep says, but that has not stopped the material’s real-world use.
At the Ambattur industrial estate, in a suburb of the Indian city of Chennai, a facility makes about 36 kg of the ferric oxyhydroxide-chitosan nanocomposite per day. Production at the plant—run by InnoNano Research, a start-up founded by the IIT Madras team—is enabling field trials in West Bengal. For more information, check DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1220222110.
From September 29th to October 1st 2014, the 2nd Colloquium of the DFG Priority Program 1681: Field controlled particle matrix interactions: synthesis multi-scale modelling and application of magnetic- hybrid materials was held in the Bavarian cloister Benediktbeuern. This colloquium is part of a special program of the German Research Foundation (DFG) (i.e., DFG Priority Program 1681) that started in January 2014 and is focused on novel magnetic hybrid materials research. The research ranges from production to technical and medical applications and includes modelling of field dependent interaction with different matrices. The work benefits from the cross-specialization collaboration of chemists, physicist, engineers, biologists, and medics.
Nearly 9 months after the start of the program, more than 60 scientists from each of the 27 projects in the program presented their most recent research findings in scientific talks and posters. The scientific reports presented during the colloquium showed very promising results. The highlight of the three-day meeting was a hiking tour in the mountains that culminated in scientific presentations being given in an alpine hut (without any projection equipment). For the selected presenters, it was an honor to speak in this unusual setting as its technical limitations require extra clarity in the communication of results.
The next colloquium will take place at the end of September 2015 at which time the first 2-year funding period will be coming to a close and groups will be looking to apply for more funding on the basis of their results.
Link to SPP description: http://www.mfd.mw.tu-dresden.de/spp1681/index.php/willkommen
Environmental conditions, such as heat, acidity, and mechanical forces, can affect the behavior of cells. Some biologists have even shown that magnetic fields can influence them. Now, for the first time, an international team reports that low-strength magnetic fields may foster the reprogramming of cellular development, aiding in the transformation of adult cells into pluripotent stem cells (ACS Nano 2014, DOI: 10.1021/nn502923s). If confirmed, the phenomenon could lead to new tools for bioengineers to control cell fates and help researchers understand the potential health effects of changing magnetic fields on astronauts.
Biologists have been building up evidence that magnetic fields affect living things, says Michael Levin, director of Tufts University’s Center for Regenerative & Developmental Biology, who was not involved in the new study. For example, plants and amphibian embryos develop abnormally when shielded from Earth’s geomagnetic field. And there’s some clinical evidence that particular electromagnetic frequencies promote bone fracture healing and wound repair (Eur. Cytokine Network 2013, DOI: 10.1684/ecn.2013.0332).
Tests that look for biomarkers could help physicians diagnose disease before symptoms present themselves. But it’s difficult to find the right protein, metabolite, or other molecule in the body that signals the start of a disease. Now researchers have described a sensitive new assay that generates its own synthetic biomarkers to detect harmful blood clots in mice (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, DOI: 10.1021/ja505676h).
Unfortunately, natural biomarkers that are both specific to a disease and easy to detect are relatively rare. So Sangeeta N. Bhatia of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and David R. Walt of Tufts University decided to develop an assay that caused diseased cells or tissues to produce a synthetic molecule the scientists could easily find.
To create the assay, the scientists combined technologies their two groups had been working on: Bhatia’s group had synthesized worm-shaped iron oxide nanoparticles that they decorated with molecules to home in on diseased cells, while Walt’s team had developed single-molecule arrays (SiMoA) that allowed them to detect extremely low quantities of biological compounds of interest. For the new assay, the two teams decorated the nanoworms with a peptide that can be cleaved by thrombin, an enzyme activated at high levels in clotting disorders. When the nanoparticles bump into active thrombin in a mouse with clotting problems, the enzymes clip off a labeled peptide that the mice then excrete in their urine.
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