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Flower-shaped magnetic nanoparticles may help destroy deep-seated cancer cells

Mar 15, 2015   |   by Joseph Bennington-Castro   |   Materials Research Society

Magnetic nanoparticles (MNP) have gained attention in recent years as promising tools to help defeat cancer through hyperthermia therapy, in which the MNPs produce cancer-destroying heat when subjected to an external alternating magnetic field. Using the technology, researchers have made headway with killing malignant cells close to the body’s surface. But other cancers, such as pancreatic and rectal cancers that are more deep-seated, have remained an issue—to generate heat while deep in the body, the nanoparticles require dangerously high external fields, which can damage normal tissue.

magnetic nanoparticles
Dartmouth MNPs

Now, an interdisciplinary team from Dartmouth has created MNPs that clump together to form flower-like aggregates—a unique arrangement that allows them to produce significant heat when subjected to relatively low fields. “One of our main achievements was to show that irregularly shaped magnetic nanoparticles produce more heat than commercially available [regular-shaped] nanoparticles,” says study first author Fridon Shubitidze, a Dartmouth associate professor of engineering. The new particles, known simply as Dartmouth MNPs and described in a recent study in the Journal of Applied Physics, may be able to help tackle deep-seated and difficult-to-treat malignant tumors in the body, Shubitidze says.

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