Research Highlight

Versatile nano-ship

doi:10.1038/nindia.2010.37 Published online 24 March 2010

They can click pictures of unruly cancer cells. They can ferry drugs that cause death of cancer cells. Researchers have designed such versatile magnetic nanoparticles that also promise selective separation of bio-molecules.

Existing methods to make magnetic nanoparticles have flaws like irregular crystallite shape and poor crystallisation.

To devise the ultra-small magnetic nanoparticles, the researchers used a new non-toxic and eco-friendly strategy. They produced tiny magnetic nanoparticles using iron compounds and polyol ethylene glycol. These were modified with amine group in the presence of organic compound. This gave rise to magnetic nanoparticles of sizes between 3-9 nm.

Magnetic Resonance imaging and biocompatibility studies on both cancer (breast and cervical) and normal cells showed selective targeting of cancer cells.

The strong interaction between magnetite nanoparticles and cancer cell lines is believed to be due to the ultra small size and unique surface chemistry of the nanoparticles coupled with the unusual metabolic activity of the cancer cells.

Using these nanoparticles, bio-separation of specific DNA, RNA, proteins and cells can be done, the researchers say.

The authors of this work are from: Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Center of Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, Department of Pharmaceutics, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Mohali and Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India.


  1. Das, M. et al. Highly biocompatible and water-dispersible, amine functionalized magnetite nanoparticles, prepared by a low temperature, air-assisted polyol process: A new platform for bio-separation and diagnostics. Nanotechnology 21, 125103 (2010) | Article | PubMed | ADS