Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Steering toxic drug-filled nanoparticles to zap cancer, not healthy cells

November 26, 2013
Artist’s impression of drug-filled mag­netic nanopar­ti­cle (credit: Northeastern Magnasim team)
North­eastern researchers are developing sim­u­la­tion soft­ware called Mag­nasim to more accu­rately steer simulated drug-filled mag­netic nanopar­ti­cles to tumor masses where they can safely dis­charge their con­tents.
Magnasim software architecture (credit: P. Vartholomeos et al./IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering)
The drugs used to kill cancer cells are just as toxic to neigh­boring healthy cells, so researchers have long sought a drug delivery method that tar­gets only cancer cells, bypassing the healthy ones.
Func­tional Mag­netic Res­o­nance Imaging (fMRI) is being used clinically to guide drug-filled mag­netic nanopar­ti­cles, but con­trol­ling their course accurately is still more an art than a sci­ence, said Dinos Mavroidis, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engi­neering at North­eastern.
“There are only a few groups worldwide that are working on targeted drug delivery using magnetic fields,” Mavroidis explained to KurzweilAI. “We are collaborating with most of them. So far there is no commercial product on the market for targeted drug delivery using magnetic fields or for the simulation software. We expect the Mag­nasim software to be on the market in 1–2 years.”
Full disclosure: I was formerly a member of a research team at Biophan Technologies, Inc. developing technologies to guide drug-filled mag­netic nanopar­ti­cles, but I have no current financial interests aside from a small amount of stock. — Amara D. Angelica, Editor

Abstract of IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering paper
A computational platform has been developed to perform simulation, visualization, and postprocessing analysis of the aggregation process of magnetic particles within a fluid environment such as small arteries and arterioles or fluid-filled cavities of the human body. The mathematical models needed to describe the physics of the system are presented in detail and also computational algorithms needed for efficient computation of these models are described. A number of simulation results demonstrate the simulation capabilities of the platform and preliminary experimental results validate simulation predictions. The platform can be used to design optimal strategies for magnetic steering and magnetic targeting of drug-loaded magnetic microparticles.
Abstract of Annual Reviews Biomedical Engineering paper
Multifunctionalized drug-loaded nanoparticle (credit: P. Vartholomeos et al./Annual Reviews Biomedical Engineering)
This review presents the state of the art of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided nanorobotic systems that can perform diagnostic, curative, and reconstructive treatments in the human body at the cellular and subcellular levels in a controllable manner.
The concept of an MRI-guided nanorobotic system is based on the use of an MRI scanner to induce the required external driving forces to propel magnetic nanocapsules to a specific target.
It is an active targeting mechanism that provides simultaneous propulsion and imaging capabilities, which allow the implementation of real-time feedback control of the targeting process. The architecture of the system comprises four main modules: (a) the nanocapsules, (b) the MRI propulsion module, (c) the MRI tracking module (for image processing), and (d) the controller module.
A key concept is the nanocapsule technology, which is based on carriers such as liposomes, polymer micelles, gold nanoparticles, quantum dots, metallic nanoshells, and carbon nanotubes. Descriptions of the significant challenges faced by the MRI-guided nanorobotic system are presented, and promising solutions proposed by the involved research community are discussed. Emphasis is placed on reviewing the limitations imposed by the scaling effects that dominate within the blood vessels and also on reviewing the control algorithms and computational tools that have been developed for real-time propulsion and tracking of the nanocapsules.

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