Research Highlight

Lipid-wrapped magnetic drug carrier

doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.73 Published online 27 May 2014

Researchers have developed lipid-coated porous magnetic nanoparticles that can deliver anticancer drugs doxorubicin and paclitaxel to target cancer cells1. These drug-loaded nanoparticles could potentially be used for treating various types of cancers.   

Studies have shown that dual drug-delivery systems can efficiently carry anticancer drugs and kill various types of cancer cells. However, poor solubility, stability and biocompatibility limit the applications of such drug carriers.  

To overcome these drawbacks of dual drug carriers, the researchers synthesized lipid-coated porous magnetic nanoparticles and loaded these nanoparticles with anticancer drugs doxorubicin and paclitaxel. They then carried out drug release studies by exposing the drug-loaded nanoparticles to heat generated by magnetic field at acidic and physiological pH levels. They also tested the efficacy of the drug-loaded lipid-coated nanoparticles in inhibiting the growth of breast, cervical and liver cancer cells by delivering the anticancer drugs.  

In drug release studies, the nanoparticles released 88 per cent of doxorubicin and 53 per cent of paclitaxel over a period of 172 hours at acidic pH and released 28 per cent of doxorubicin and 26 per cent of paclitaxel at physiological pH of 7.4. These results suggest that the applied heat helped diffuse and release the anticancer drugs by disintegrating the soft lipid coat of the nanoparticles.    

In studies with the cancer cells, both the drug-loaded nanoparticles and the cancer cells were exposed to magnetic field-induced heat for 5 and 10 minutes. The five-minute exposure killed 67 per cent of cervical, 65 per cent of breast and 69 per cent of liver cancer cells. The killing efficiencies of the drug-loaded nanoparticles increased by 20 per cent when exposed to heat for 10 minutes.  

“This dual drug-delivery system can provide an effective strategy for stifling tumour growth and suppressing drug-resistant cancers,” says Dhirendra Bahadur, a senior author of the study.


1. Pradhan, L. et al. pH- and thermosensitive thin lipid layer coated mesoporous magnetic nanoassemblies as a dual drug delivery system towards thermochemotherapy of cancer. Acta. Biomaterialia (2014) doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2014.04.011