02 September 2021

Nanomagnets for oncologists

LETI scientists have figured out how to defeat cancer with the help of nanomagnets

"Scientific Russia"

Oncological diseases are one of the most important causes of death worldwide. The number of cancer cases is growing every year – according to scientists from the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in 2040 specialists will diagnose 28.4 million new cases of diseases, which is 47 percent more than in 2020.

Today, one of the main methods of treating tumor diseases is chemotherapy – the introduction of cytostatic drugs that disrupt the growth and development of both cancer cells and healthy ones. 

"One of the promising approaches aimed at solving the problem of cytostatic toxicity is the method of targeted drug transport using nanoscale carriers that provide local accumulation of drugs in tumor tissue without increasing their concentration in healthy organs and tissues," comments Associate Professor of the Department of Micro– and Nanoelectronics of St. Petersburg State Technical University "LETI", senior researcher at the Microtechnology Engineering Center and diagnostics (IC CMID) Kamil Gareev. 

Scientists of the St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University "LETI" together with colleagues of the FSBI "NMIC named after V.A. Almazov" a new principle of using magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) in targeted drug delivery has been proposed.


Accumulation of magnetite nanoparticles with fluorescent dye indocyanine in the mouse liver. From left to right – control animal; introduction of nanoparticles without a magnetic field; introduction of nanoparticles with the creation of a magnetic field in the tumor area. A – 1 minute after administration; B – 15 minutes after administration (arrow indicates the location of the tumor). Figure from the article by Toropova et al. Controlling the Movement of Magnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles Intended for Targeted Delivery of Cytostatics – VM.

The results obtained will form the basis for the development of magnetically controlled transport of cytostatic drugs into tumor tissue.

The essence of the described principle is to place a special stent – a mesh made of a special alloy that provides shape memory, with neodymium magnets attached to it – in the cavity organ affected by the tumor. For several cycles of blood circulation, magnetic nanoparticles are concentrated in the place where the stent is located.

"In vivo experiments confirm that there is a concentration of particles in tissues. This suggests that in the foreseeable future it will be possible to move on to preclinical research," says Kamil Gareev.

At this stage of the study, scientists mathematically calculated the optimal characteristics of the magnetic field for controlling magnetic nanoscale drug carriers in the body, synthesized a conjugate of MNF and a fluorescent agent, and also developed a protocol for their visualization in the body. In the future, the researchers plan to switch to experiments on more advanced biogenic particles.

The current stage of development is a continuation of the long-term research of magnetic nanoparticles conducted by scientists of LETI and NMIC named after V.A. Almazov. Earlier in the review article, the researchers formulated the main properties of magnetotactic bacteria and described the possibilities of their use in medicine.

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