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Researchers develop heat-efficient cancer-busting nanoparticles

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Researchers in the US have invented a way to make magnetic nanoparticles that get hotter than any previous nanoparticle, improving their cancer fighting ability.

Faculty from the Oregon State University (OSU) College of Pharmacy spearheaded a collaboration that developed an advanced thermal decomposition method for producing nanoparticles able to reach temperatures in cancer lesions of up to 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit, when exposed to an alternating magnetic field.

Findings of the preclinical study led by Oleh Taratula and Olena Taratula are published in the journal Small Methods.

Magnetic nanoparticles have shown anti-cancer potential for years, the researchers said.

Once inside a tumour, the particles are exposed to an alternating magnetic field, causing them to heat up, weakening or destroying the cancer cells.

Olena Taratula

“Magnetic hyperthermia shows great promise for the treatment of many types of cancer.

“Many preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated its potential to either kill cancer cells directly or enhance their susceptibility to radiation and chemotherapy.”

But today, magnetic hypothermia can only be used for patients whose tumours are accessible by a hypodermic needle, Oleh Taratula said, and not for people with hard to reach malignancies such as metastatic ovarian cancer.

The scientist said:

“With currently available magnetic nanoparticles, the required therapeutic temperatures – above 44 degrees Celsius – can only be achieved by direct injection into the tumour.

“The nanoparticles have only moderate heating efficiency, which means you need a high concentration of them in the tumour to generate enough heat.

“And numerous studies have shown that only a small percentage of systemically injected nanoparticles accumulate in tumours, making it a challenge to get that high concentration.”

To tackle these issues, the scientists developed a new chemical manufacturing technique that resulted in magnetic nanoparticles with more heating efficiency.

The scientists demonstrated in a mouse model that the cobalt-doped nanoparticles will accumulate in metastatic ovarian cancer tumours following low-dose systemic administration, and that when exposed to an alternating magnetic field, the particles can rise in temperature to 50 degrees Celsius.

Olena Taratula said

“To our knowledge, this is the first time it’s been shown that magnetic nanoparticles injected intravenously at a clinically recommended dose are capable of increasing the temperature of cancer tissue above 44 degrees Celsius.

“And we also demonstrated that our novel method could be used for the synthesis of various core-shell nanoparticles.

“It could serve as a foundation for the development of novel nanoparticles with high heating performance, further advancing systemic magnetic hyperthermia for treating cancer.”

Image: Olena Taratula, Oleh Taratula, OSU College of Pharmacy

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